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Transparent Leadership | Are you sharing or hoarding? | R.E.S.P.E.C.T

This 7-part weekly Leadership series is about R.E.S.P.E.C.T. – How to get it by earning it!

The RESPECT Series

The ability to earn R.E.S.P.E.C.T. is a critical Leadership requirement … and we have absolute control over the actions we take to earn it.

It’s also the “centerpiece of accountability“, a concept that vexes even the most astute business leaders.

Since it’s impossible to be an effective leader without gaining respect, let’s devote some time and energy to learn how to give it … to get it. Are you with me?


The RESPECT SeriesAre you sharing or hoarding information?

When I began my business career in the 1970s, the word “transparency” was not in the business lexicon.

You knew what you were told … and you were told what someone thought you needed to know … but it was unlikely that you’d hear much about where the company was going or your role in it.

Prior to starting my own company in the early 1980’s, I can’t recall a single company-wide meeting at any of the companies where I worked … or any general discussion of the company’s performance or strategy.

Is there any doubt about the Power of Transparency?

What exactly is Transparency, the last letter … “T” = Transparency … in our 7 part R.E.S.P.E.C.T. series?

It doesn’t necessarily mean opening the kimono or letting everyone ramble around backstage. It doesn’t mean sharing every financial tidbit with everyone all the time.

In fact, it’s as much an attitude as a policy because it’s rooted in collaboration and an open-book environment.

In How to Lead during a recession, I mentioned a Business Week column by Jack Welch, former GE CEO about Keeping Morale Up in a Downturn.

In that column, Jack was pretty clear about the value of transparency as well as the tendency by executives to hold the cards much closer to the vest during difficult times.

“Now, we realize we don’t need to tell anyone why transparency makes sense. Most managers know from experience that employees get more pumped when they understand where the company is going, why, and what role they play in getting there. But an awful thing tends to happen to information-transfer in a downturn. Managers choke: It’s as if they can’t bring themselves to deliver hard news without leaving out pieces and fuzzing the lines.”

Why is Transparency Important?

Ironically, transparency is the glue that holds strong companies together.


It means that there are no hidden agendas or secret cabals or schemes being concocted behind the curtain.

Rather, problems and challenges are shared, input is encouraged, and everyone locks arms in a crisis to stand together.

In many ways, it is the ultimate collaborative environment where the bad and the ugly get delivered with the good.

Everyone shares the goals and objectives of the organization and has access to timely performance metrics. Everyone is important to the organization’s success.

There are some tricky parts to Transparency

Are there some tricky parts to transparency?

Yes there are, including deliberations about employee performance or discussions about the possible sale of the company, for example.

At the same time, leaders of transparent organization are committed to their people, and want their people to be able to make plans for their lives by helping them understand as much as possible about what the future may hold.

Yes, there’s some risk in this process, but what’s risk-free these days anyways?

While there is the risk of leaks or damaging whispers, they’re offset by the unassailable value of building a collaborative environment of committed teammates fighting for a common cause. You may lose a few skirmishes but you’ll win the war.

What are you doing to create a Transparent Organization? Is it worth it? Would you do it differently?


R.E.S.P.E.C.T. Is Earned … then received

Respect is something we have to earn. It can’t be bought or stolen. Our parents preached it, Aretha Franklin’s timeless rock ‘n roll anthem preached about it … and Rodney Dangerfield’s Grammy award-winning comedy album, No Respect, explains why we can’t get any. (BTW, this clip is hilarious!)

Remember that the general precepts of our R.E.S.P.E.C.T – How To Get It by Earning It series, are at the core of one of the most tormenting challenges faced by business leaders … how promote and achieve accountability throughout the organization.

I have spoken extensively on this subject, including at a national webinar sponsored by Success Factors, and it may be one of the most exasperating issues that CEOs face because it’s also central to creating a responsible culture, without which, not much gets done.

You’ll find other resources about the Cornerstone of Accountability in the Speaking section under Leadership Challenges and Solutions.


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