Leaders Understand the Value of Transparency

Window with light streaming through

We are moving. Again! I don’t care to count the exact number of houses, apartments, condos, and townhomes I’ve been in during the last 11 years but it’s a lot, over 15. Mid-life crisis? Perhaps now, but not 11 years ago! Trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up? Partially. Dealing with circumstances beyond my control? Yes. Chasing the rainbow? A little. Regardless, I’ve spent a lot of the last 11 years and much of my life “on the move.”

I’ve lived in California – twice. West Virginia – twice. South Carolina – twice. Virginia – twice. Tennessee. Arizona. Guam. Kentucky. New Jersey. The Philippines. North Carolina. Connecticut. And now Nebraska. I’m hoping that Lincoln (NE) is my “long-term” home and Spreetail my “long-term” employer. There are exciting things happening in Lincoln from a business, start-up, academic, and commercial development standpoint. And Spreetail, “an ecommerce company with the purpose of making a dent in the universe by delighting millions of customers, creating opportunity and wealth for our team, and revolutionizing communities we touch” is at the forefront.

But to get to Lincoln and Spreetail, I had to move. From Connecticut to Nebraska to be exact. And to be frank, and while it’s a move I never saw coming, I’m both honored and excited to be here. And yes, it means packing up household goods, selling a home in Connecticut, moving across the country, buying a home in Lincoln, unpacking, and settling in. The entire process takes months and is overwhelming to many, but it’s a process with which I’m familiar. My wife and I know how to move. It’s a competency we’ve developed over many years.

Recently, she and I were looking at homes in Nebraska. It was a hot and sunny day. The window in the mud-room was letting in a LOT of natural light. It was almost blinding and I reached for my sunglasses as we looked around for a few minutes. One thing was clear, the window allowed us to see details we would have missed otherwise. The window revealed and, in a sense, provided insight to the structure, proportions, and design of the room.

This provided a vivid image that relates to leadership. Like the window, great leaders understand the value of transparency. Yes, there are some things that aren’t shared. Some things are secret, confidential, or personal. But many things should be shared with others. Your team and colleagues will benefit as you open up the window. They will appreciate understanding your thought processes and the context that led to certain decisions. They will appreciate seeing and hearing the framework, the strategy, the outline before you jump into the details.

Being transparent requires a certain vulnerability and confidence. It doesn’t mean sharing every thought, but it means providing insight into how your weigh competing factors, the trade-offs you made. Being transparent means you open yourself up to questioning, ridicule and 2nd guessing. Are you confident enough to handle it? Do you care enough about your team and the outcome to take a risk?

You may live in the same city or small town in which you were born. That’s awesome. Or you may be a traveler & adventurer. That’s awesome too. But please remember that regardless of how many places you’ve lived and how many windows you have in your current dwelling, great leaders demonstrate transparency. Confidences? Yes. Boundaries? Yes. Personal, off-limit information? Yes. But there’s much value that can be added by letting those around you understand your thought processes, your biases, your blind-spots, your assumptions and your goals. Take a risk and be transparent. Great leaders are.

Have a great week and remember to consider the value of transparency in your interactions with others.

Dr. Robert Gerwig is an agent of change and is able to balance the needs of the business and the needs of people. Dr. Gerwig believes and practices the values of performance and delivery of business metrics while simultaneously developing and growing people into leaders. You can contact him at RobertGerwig[at]LeadStrategic.com.

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2 thoughts on “Leaders Understand the Value of Transparency

  1. Bob, I had picked up from an earlier note that your were moving “again”. Prayers for success in this new season. When I think of Transparency – wives often come to mind. To share with my wife (Debby) what I’m thinking is a “gift” to her. She appreciates it and it results in better outcomes.

    • Great reminder Mr. Whiskers! I covet your prayers as we begin this new season, settling in to a new house, new job, new state and new church. Looking forward to attending Cornhusker football games this Fall. … I believe there’s a lot of good that comes from Transparency in terms of trust, understanding, commitment, buy-in, alignment, improvement, collaboration, clarity and ownership. I also know I don’t understand it’s full value, but the better outcomes are significant enough that I know it has great value. Thanks for your insights!

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