“The single most important ingredient in the recipe for success is transparency because transparency builds trust.” — Denise Morrison
While there are many traits that define great leadership, few are more important than transparency. In many ways, transparency largely comes down to being open and honest — with employees, clients or anyone else you communicate with as part of your business.
Of course, that doesn’t mean sharing confidential information. Nor does it mean sharing so much information that you overwhelm those around you. Rather, it’s about sharing the right information with the right people at the right times so you can make the best decisions together.
When done right, transparency becomes a key part of your leadership style – and even, a competitive advantage. Below, I’ve outlined three easy ways to increase your transparency whether you’re a C-Suite executive or entry level associate:
1) Set Clear Expectations
According to Gallup research, only half of American workers feel like they truly understand what their employer wants from them. Crazy, right? When leaders aren’t actively engaged in setting expectations for their team members, it can be easy for employees to lose motivation. They may be more likely to focus on the wrong metrics, or simply waste time.
This lack of communication will lead to subpar results in the workplace and ultimately, tension between leaders and staff. However, as one manager put it in the Gallup report: “Performance evaluations should not be a surprise. If employees don’t know where they stand before that meeting, there is a big problem. One of the two hasn’t been doing their job —probably the manager.”
Transparent leaders set performance expectations for everyone, including themselves. This gives everyone a clear sense of direction that enhances performance and engagement. A great way to do that is by setting SMART goals which are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound.
2) Share Your Failures, Not Just Your Successes
Transparency goes hand-in-hand with vulnerability and humility. While it is easy for many leaders to celebrate their successes, it can be harder to admit when you didn’t do things perfectly.
However, owning up to your mistakes and failures can be powerful. Few leaders know this as well as Niko Polvinen, who may be one of the most vulnerable execs around. As co-founder and CEO of Logmore, he even goes as far as to share his failures with potential clients before they hire his data-logging company.
“Your clients expect a certain level of performance when they sign up to do business with you,” Niko explained. “By being truthful when things go wrong, you can retain their confidence. You won’t come across like you’re trying to hide information to seem better than you are. Rather, you’ll make the case that you’re holding yourself to measurably high standards and are invested in constant improvement.”
In essence, this openness enables you to demonstrate your company’s commitment to growth and performance — a valuable asset when pitching clients or trying to motivate employees.
3) Be Consistent
Leaders should strive to be consistent in policies and actions. You shouldn’t play favorites or make exceptions to the rules — particularly if those exceptions only benefit yourself. Consistent behavior from leadership proves that you walk the walk, not just talk the talk.
Examples of consistent behavior among business leaders includes making it a policy to share information about your company’s development and decisions with the rest of the staff. This could include holding meetings with the entire team on a consistent basis so that everyone is kept in the loop.
This consistent communication can be more valuable than you might think. Studies show that for businesses with 100 employees, miscommunications can cost the company an average of $420,000 per year.
This largely stems from a lack of communication, in which employees aren’t informed of expectations and new developments. However, it can also occur when leaders don’t give their staff an opportunity to provide feedback of their own — or if they simply ignore the feedback they receive.
Consistently transparent behavior in leadership demonstrates the value of each employee so that everyone feels like they have a voice. The resulting employee satisfaction and engagement can drive results for years to come.
Ultimately, transparency creates an open, honest culture that benefits everyone involved. Employees become more productive, and will even become active advocates for your company. Costly misunderstandings can be avoided. Clients will trust you and feel secure giving you their business, ensuring long-term stability for your brand.
Transparency starts at the top. By setting the right tone, you will benefit all aspects of your company.