By Anthony T. Eaton
When leaders are transparent they not only earn the respect of those they lead, those people also work harder for them.
While it won’t fix a poor performer, it will elevate a consistent one and take top performers to new heights.
But what exactly is leadership transparency?
Employees want to know what is going on and it is the leader’s responsibility to tell them.
Don’t just communicate, over communicate. Take every opportunity to let employees know what is going on not only within the department but with the company and with you. Sharing information about the company is important and employees will appreciate it, but sharing what is going on with you is critical in building a relationship of trust and shows a willingness to be vulnerable.
Employees are people; they have lives, families, goals, problems, and fears. If employees are afraid to take time off, can’t leave in the middle of the day, or share personal things then they will be less focused on business. The best leaders expect employees to get their work done, they don’t care when so long as deadlines are met, and they don’t care where if being in the office doesn’t matter. Being able to share the human side of their lives builds a connection between employees, the business and more importantly their leader. Being able to take care of their personal and family needs allows them to focus on the business and be more engaged.
We have all heard it, “I have an open door policy” and it is not only cliché but more often than not untrue. Employees need to have access to leaders when they need it and leaders need to trust that their employees won’t take advantage or waste their time. Having access allows for employees to more effectively do their job and be engaged. It also allows for a transfer of knowledge and experience while building employee confidence.
Leaders cannot be engaged if they spend all their time in their office, they must spend time with those they lead. Saying hello in the morning, talking about things other than work and taking a genuine interest in what is going on demonstrates engagement. It also set’s an example that can be emulated in their interactions with customers.
Mistakes will happen, things will not always go right, and sometimes deadlines will be missed. It is the leader’s job to hold employees accountable for what is expected, but it is hypocritical if the leader fails to hold themselves accountable. When leaders make mistakes or don’t deliver, they must own it if they are going to expect those they lead to do the same. It is important to understand the why behind any failure, but there should never be an excuse. A leader should neither make an excuse or accept one. Accountability lets everyone know where they stand and that there are not different standards between employees and leaders.
Making communication, empathy, accessibility, engagement, and accountability part of everyday leadership creates the transparency that employees are looking for. It will not only benefit the leader but serve as an example for those around them.