Transparency in business leadership is critical. When leaders are transparent, they build trust and credibility. Their teams generally have a more favorable view of them, as well as the company as a whole.
Transparency encourages open communication, problem solving, and respect. These are the foundations of a strong company culture.
What Happens When We Fail to Be Transparent
Still, many companies and managers struggle with transparency. They will point out the potential pitfalls with too much transparency.
What happens when you have to make difficult or unpopular decisions? What happens when ethical or regulatory questions arise? What happens when confidential insider information gets leaked to the press or to our competitors?
While it is true that some secrecy is required at the highest levels of an organization, the more transparent we can be, the better. And that’s not just a matter of culture. It’s a matter of performance.
Study after study has shown that healthier company cultures lead to stronger company performance. And when management is open and honest with their employees, they give them the tools to succeed.
Share the Goals
In most companies, you get a kind of goal pyramid. There are overall goals at the very top – revenue growth, profitability, etc. – that are driven in turn by shorter-term goals that vary from department to department. Marketing goals, sales goals, financial goals, hiring goals, product goals, and more. They all build on each other and successfully hitting all the individual goals should lead to the company hitting those top level goals we started with.
You count on your team to help meet the goals of your department. But do you share with them what those goals are? And if you do, do you also share with them the larger goals for the company?
In the spirit of transparency, we should all strive to share all the goals the company is aiming for. Our teams deserve to know how the work that is expected of them is going to help the company achieve its goals.
This kind of openness encourages feedback, incentivizes performance, and adds meaning to each and every role throughout the organization. When your team members all know the goals, they can do their part to help reach them. Otherwise they are just checking boxes as part of some vague mission that does not involve them.
Be open and honest with your team and you will drive better performance.