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Transparency

Transparency. It’s all the hype in business today, with taxpayers crying out for banks to shape up after big bailouts, and employees demanding to know about the future of their position before it’s published in the newspapers.

But what does it really mean? Let’s figure it out.

  • For you boomers out there, the word probably takes you back to high school: a transparent object, especially a photographic slide that is viewed by shining light through it.
  • Gen X-ers are skeptical of closed-door proceedings, and they value open, two-way communication.
  • Gen Y, I bet you’re thinking: Organizational transparency helps create trust among stakeholders, encourages more informed decision-making, and supports greater participation.

OK, great. Now we know what each others’ perceptions of the word are, but why do I care? It’s just corporate jargon! Right? WRONG. Here’s why it’s important to today’s leaders:

Leaders want people to follow them. In today’s multi-generational workforce, transparency sets the right tone to secure buy-in and commitment from diverse groups and perspectives. To be transparent, you must know this:

  1. Be clear in your own mind on what it is you need your team to accomplish. If you aren’t clear about the goal and how you’re measuring success, how can you expect others’ to achieve your vision?
  2. It’s a matter of trust. Candor. Leaders want their people to trust them. But it’s a two-way street, folks! Leaders need to trust their people enough to tell them just where they stand.
  3. Communicate! The great thing about communication is that, much to many people’s surprise, it’s a two-way street. In truly transparent organizations, communication is a dialogue. There is conversation where leaders talk AND listen. But there is also non-verbal communication. Leaders watch their employees, peers and customers. They watch to understand, then take appropriate action to leverage the good and correct the under-performing.
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