Transparent Leadership: Passing Fad or Here to Stay?
Leadership transparency is not just good ethics, it is good business. It plays a key role in maintaining an engaged workforce and in keeping loyal customers.
Transparency is helpful when sharing basic information, but above and beyond that, its importance in corporate decision making cannot be underestimated. It leads to clarity for all stakeholders. Transparency results in enhanced employee productivity and better morale. In the eyes of your customers, it generates appreciation and positive response, which ultimately strengthens your bottom line.
In order to build team – and brand – loyalty, you must first build trust. People appreciate and respond well to honesty, just as they can quickly sense opaque communication.
In a recent analysis of more than 40,000 employee survey responses, it was found that:
- Leadership transparency is the number-one factor in defining employee happiness. The cost of enhancing communication transparency is almost nothing, but it does require an ongoing dialogue between management and staff. An increasing number of companies are using transparency to attract and retain A-level talent.
- Management tends to do a good job outlining employee roles, but falls short when it comes to communicating organizational vision. Eighty-two percent of survey respondents said their managers clearly outlined their roles and responsibilities, but only 42 percent knew their company’s vision or values. The survey’s summary notes that, “too many executives are not communicating their companies’ guiding principles and mission.” To be successful, such communication needs to be consistent and sustained over time.
No one wants to work for a company if they do not know what it stands for or what its plans are for the long term. To build trust:
- Make it clear that transparency applies to everyone. From the CEO down, open communication is a two-way street. When you implement transparency throughout your entire company, it becomes more about teamwork than about focus on any one individual.
- Challenge your team to think creatively. When you point out areas for improvement, ask for and include suggestions. Everyone likes to be challenged and to be included in problem solving.
- Make transparency about company goals a priority. Align goals with the vision of your organization – and let everyone see this. Your team may be deep into details but with transparency, you open their eyes to the big picture.
How to Achieve Transparency
Here are some additional tips to build your business systems for transparency:
- Use cloud tools. Technology such as Google Documents minimize email and online confusion and give everyone access to key documents.
- Implement performance measures that all employees can see. Like a speedometer or gas gauge on a car, they are essential for you to know if you are going too fast or too slow, or if you are running low on fuel.
- Flatten your corporate structure. Make it more horizontal than vertical. Ideally, every employee should have access to senior management – and the CEO and other senior leaders must take time to listen. The ROI is quick turnaround for great ideas, as well as continued high morale.
Embrace transparency as a way to enhance customer loyalty as well. Across all industries, transparency has never been so critical to successful business models.
A recent Harvard Business Review study examined the concept of transparency in a restaurant setting where cooks and customers could literally see each other during food preparation and dining experiences. As a result, there was a 17 percent improvement in customer satisfaction and a 13 percent improvement in speed of service. This indicates that customers are happier when they feel they have been made part of the process.
As you build your leadership strategy with transparency – and success – in mind, consider partnering with the expert team at BrainWorks. From a talent management and overall business success perspective, we can help you build your brand and drive results. Contact us today to learn more.