One of the biggest mistakes you can make as a leader is to withhold reality from your employees, volunteers, and Board. If you’re clutching certain things close to your chest, ask yourself why. Are you trying to protect somebody or preserve your job? Are you attempting to elevate your authority, get your own way, or play games? Know that your objectives define YOU, your identity, and your leadership brand. Hidden agendas are deadly. Not sure how to increase your transparency? Start implementing at least two of the following strategies now:
Let people know you. Whether in person or via social media, allow your core values to determine your conduct. When interacting with others, let your personality shine. Share appropriate snippets of information about your life outside the office. Disclose your bucket list or a special dream. Be vulnerable.
Communicate company direction. Employees cannot function effectively if they don’t know, understand, and support the CEO’s vision for the organization. If you’re at the top, you’ve got to tell folks where you—and they—are going. Expecting them to read your mind is unfair to everybody and stymies meaningful progress.
Keep your promises. Adopt this rule of thumb: Don’t make a promise you either can’t keep or don’t intend to keep. Whatever you say you’ll do, you must do it. If you renege on your commitments, large or small, you lose leadership credibility. Each promise matters.
Reveal your mistakes. Covering up your mistakes is a fast track to self destruction. When you realize you made the wrong decision about something, admit it. Use the situation as an opportunity to teach staff or volunteers about the importance and components of critical thinking.
Initiate fierce conversations. Pretending that you don’t need to confront your star manager about her missed project deadline is unacceptable. Choosing to turn your head and look the other way when you witness obvious verbal abuse is wrong. Muster your courage and face these issues. Ignoring them exacerbates your problems.
I want to be candid here: I am a stickler for transparency. As an executive, I held myself to high standards. I urge you to do the same. Your attempts to weasel, hide, fake, or dodge will come back to bite you. Count on it. For more information on transparency and leadership, watch my short video on the topic.