There has been no shortage of articles written on the value of transparency in business. Drivers behind transparency include increased trust, higher employee engagement and buy-in, realized brand authenticity, and improved loyalty. As a leader, I am a big believer in being as transparent with my team, customers, business partners, and stakeholders as possible. I believe in transparency for all of the reasons mentioned previously and for one additional simple fact: It is the right thing to do. When I am asked to lead a new team or my existing team adds a new teammate, there are four promises I make to them:
- I promise to give you a truthful answer when asked a question (aka: transparency). I may not always be able to give you all of the details at the present time but I will not lie to you.
- I promise to wear the black hat and tell people “no” on your behalf so that you can maintain as positive of a relationship as possible.
- I promise to remove as many barriers as possible that are keeping you from being as productive and as happy as you can be.
- I promise to help you find a healthy balance between your responsibilities both inside and outside the office.
I am considering adding a fifth question to my list: I promise to be vulnerable to you when appropriate.
Vulnerability is different than transparency in that, while transparency allows those around you to look inside your operations, vulnerability allows those around you to look inside you. It allows co-workers, team members, and stakeholders to see the less-than-perfect you. The you that, if you only make three mistakes before lunch, considers the day a success. The human you. The personal you.
Leaders understand the need for both transparency and vulnerability. Both engender loyalty from your team and can lead to greater passion and productivity. With transparency comes buy-in but with vulnerability comes connection.
I have, on more than one occasion, been given the opportunity to admit mistakes I have made in my career and I have never regretted doing just that. When a leader admits a mistake, it frees their team to try their hardest, safe in the knowledge that calculated risks–and the inevitable mistakes that come about because of taking them–are acceptable to the organization.
Note: For a more detailed discussion on vulnerability and its power, please view this excellent TEDxHouston talk by Brene Brown.