Being Transparent

“Being Transparent is the opposite of hiding an agenda, protecting one’s ego, or being insincere. At the same time, transparent leaders are strategic about information and share it with purpose and integrity.”

Excerpt from, The Cycle of Transformation by Deb Siverson (that’s me!)

I have a dear friend who recently gave me some feedback. She was direct, bold, and loving. She shared a perspective I needed to hear. In those moments following her feedback, I remember thinking how grateful I was to have someone that cared that much. I checked in with myself to see if I felt defensive, nope, just ready to explore this idea.   Because of her willingness to invest in my success, I’m paying special attention to ways that I complicate messages rather than keeping them simple. While she knows me fairly well, I suspect she gauged my openness and readiness to receive the information. Regardless, she easily could have side-stepped having this transparent conversation as she had nothing to gain by revealing her thoughts. But I had something to gain, and my loyalty and trust in our relationship increased because she gifted me with valuable information that could help my effectiveness.

Being transparent with others is as much an internal as an external skill. I imagine our ego mind working behind the scenes and planting seeds of doubt with questions such as:

  • What if I share my thoughts honestly, will others be on my side?
  • Is it better to go along, to get along with the majority?
  • If I share this juicy information will others hold me in higher regard?

Being transparent is not about being an open book. As leaders we must always focus on our impact. What are we moving ourselves and others toward? At the same time we don’t share information or withhold it as a way to manipulate power. We share information with integrity and in a purposeful and meaningful way. We share as needed to unleash the power of others.

There is a distinction between being transparent and being your authentic self. We can be authentic and still discerning about what we share and when. Giving information because we need to process our own experience can be ill-advised depending on the audience. Being intentional about what others need to know in any given moment is a good practice, and at the same time we have to be aware of over-protecting or coddling people.

If you thought transparency was about bearing your soul, I encourage you to reconsider. In summary, being transparent is about sharing information openly yet appropriately. Here are some guideposts that can help you consider how transparent you are:

  • Are you congruent between your inner and outer self; no pretense?
  • Do you create meaningful, real connections with team members?
  • Would you consider yourself sincere in word and deed? Do you walk your talk?
  • Can you clearly and respectfully communicate both good and bad news?
  • Do you reveal personal information within the context of work, and on a need-to-know basis?
  • Can you responsibly share true opinions and emotions?
  • Do you ask for feedback about your performance?
  • On a scale of 1-10 (ten being extremely comfortable) how comfortable are you at owning up to mistakes?

If you want to learn more about transparency, contact me at 303-238-9733 or email me at [email protected].

If you like this blog, I think you will like my book the Cycle of Transformation. Available now!
Deb Siverson is a seasoned executive coach, certified as a PCC through the International Coach Federation. If you want to schedule time to discuss how you or your organization can increase engagement by having a different conversation at work, contact us now.

2 replies
  1. Jody Larimore
    Jody Larimore says:

    I recently committed a mistake at work. I helped design a presentation for one of my bosses. I was traveling, at another bosses business meeting and working late to add the finishing touches to this presentation. I was so proud to push the send button on this very confidential deck and immediately noticed that I sent it not only to him…but to all his directs. OM Goodness. I immediately attempted to recall…and I immediately called him. I confessed, apologized profusely and instructed him that he needed to “fire” me. Was I comfortable admitting my mistake? Oh no…my whole being was embarrassed…was it the absolute right action? Yes. In addition contacted his directs and asked them to delete the message, asked them is they by chance read it prior to recall to abstain from discussing the content and I copied him. Transparency is one of the least talked about behavior and one of the most powerful behaviors a leader has at his/her fingertips. The relationship with my manager was challenged, more importantly is was strengthened.

    • dsiverson
      dsiverson says:

      Thank you for sharing this example Jody. Transparency is powerful, and I’m noticing it isn’t about being an “open book” or “what you see is what you get.” Its conscious choice. You have to be willing to be vulnerable and wise. There is also a strong tie to Personal Accountability…which you model beautifully!

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