What Transparency Looks LikeOne of the new organizational buzzwords is transparency. Today’s post will talk about what transparency looks like with quintessential leaders and what transparency looks like with everyone else.

You may be surprised to find that transparency among most people in leadership positions is illusionary, conditional, selective, and, in fact, is a lie because it doesn’t exist.

The word transparent at its simplest means to see through. Nothing is obscured, blurry, fuzzy, or out of view. Transparency, then, is the state or condition of being transparent. So anyone or any organization claiming transparency is describing their or its continual state or condition.

But is that true?

In most cases, the answer is “no.” While there is usually a lot of activity and A Smokescreen is Not Transparencycommunication to give the impression of transparency to the teams, what is done and what is said for everyone to see is essentially a smokescreen to keep teams feeling informed and included, while the real heart of the activity and communication – the business core – is conducted in secret behind closed doors among a small inner circle that has been sworn to secrecy.

So how do we know if a person or an organization is truly in a state or condition of transparency or not?

It’s quite simple.

Listen to them.

Anyone who or any organization that is constantly saying they are transparent is not.

People and organizations that are really see-through don’t ever have to say they are because it’s visible and obvious.

Only people and organizations with something to hide will make a conscious effort to regularly reiterate that they are committed to transparency. Just as liars will keep repeating their lies to try to convince others they are telling the truth, so will people and organizations that are not transparent who say over and over that they are.

So what are some key pieces of evidence that we can look for to see what transparency does not look like?

  1. A superficial and protective outer layer of smoke and mirrors that looks clear until it is placed on top of all the hidden layers and then nothing is clear. This looks like a plexiglass cover that is placed on top of wood-stained coffee table to protect it from damage and scratches.
  2. The Wizard of Oz behind the curtainA continuous barrage of stimulating, but meaningless, information designed to deflect attention and shift focus away from the nuts and bolts of what’s really happening and what’s substantive. This looks like the Wizard of Oz behind the curtain projecting an illusionary image of reality.
  3. Saying one thing, but being the opposite. Actions always speak louder than words. There are far too many, since this reflects the majority of people who are currently in leadership positions, for me to name the most obvious examples I can see and think of. Look around your venue on the world. You won’t have to look far to find this behavior.

So then, now that we have seen what transparency doesn’t look like, since we are all striving to be quintessential leaders and transparency is a quality of quintessential leadership, then we must know what transparency does look like in action.

Real transparency lays all the cards on the tableReal transparency lays all the cards on the table up front. It takes a proactive approach to full disclosure of the facts and relevant circumstances, providing a big-picture framework to fully and completely encompass and describe the genesis and the outcome of decision-making.

Real transparency doesn’t sidestep controversy or issues, actions, words, etc. that are either perceived as a liability or were part of poor or ill-informed decision-making. We all have these in our realm of experience. 

Quintessential leaders, however, don’t try to sweep them under the rug and pretend they never happened, nor do they try to excuse, clarify, or blame them away. Instead, quintessential leaders own their missteps and mistakes and use them as teaching opportunities for the quintessential leaders they are developing on their teams.

The lessons of our failures and how we addressed and overcame them are the most valuable we can pass on to the next generation of quintessential leaders for several reasons.

First, future quintessential leaders understand that nobody is perfect and screwing up is sometimes part of the learning process.

Second, by our showing them step-by-step how we recovered, we are modeling a tangible and realistic example – showing them what it looks like in practice – of how to overcome, grow, and move forward.

Third, we are helping them, by sharing our experiences, hopefully not to repeat our missteps and mistakes. (When people portray themselves as perfect, there is no knowledge or experience to pass on to the next generation, who will find themselves in missteps and mistakes, but will model the unquintessential leadership example of no transparency that was modeled to them, ensuring that and perpetuating the same mistakes down the line to successive generations.)

Real transparency is WYSIWYGReal transparency doesn’t deceive, lie, or cover up anything. Everything’s an open book of reality, honesty, and what-you-see-is-what-you-get.

What unquintessential leaders don’t realize is that by not being transparent, they often spend most of their time dealing with the past (you will always hear more references to the past and especially to a mythical past of “glory days” than you will ever hear about detailed and actionable plans for how to navigate successfully through right here, right now and for navigating successfully through the future) and they, therefore, have little to no time to deal with the present and the future.

So, as always, we take the subject of transparency and we look critically, honestly and objectively into the mirrors of our own lives.

Do we faithfully practice total transparency in every aspect of our lives?

Do we practice transparency in some areas of our lives, but not others?

Do we not practice transparency anywhere in our lives?

Each of us can only answer these questions for ourselves. But we have to be willing to be honest and candid and to change, if we find anything less than total transparency in every aspect of our lives.

How are we doing? 

 

Comments
  1. ccbible11 says:

    Reblogged this on Concretized Christianity and commented:
    This is a post that belongs here just as much as it belongs on The Quintessential Leader blog.

    For us as Christians, transparency must be paramount in who we are, what we are, what we say, and what we do. Sadly, except for individual examples – which each of us must be in our daily lives – transparency, on the whole, is nowhere to be found among groups and organizations claiming to follow Jesus Christ.

    Like

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