Transparency: Let Them See You Sweat!

By Diane Dempster, Executive Coach 

transparency One of the most valuable exercises in leadership coaching is when the coach and the client take out the magnifying glass and really look at what’s going on with a situation; bringing in some transparency. Through more holistic exploration (let’s even call it “holographic”) we learn much more about what the obstacles, blocks, motivations and opportunities are within an apparent challenge. This exercise often provides the client with clarity and a new perspective which enables them to move a situation (or team, or organization) forward.

At the same time, transparency can require a level of introspection and vulnerability that can be uncomfortable for some leaders. Multiply that times 10 when things aren’t going well, and as leaders we are challenged to do this exploration publically within our teams or companies. That is true transparency, and a cornerstone of fearless leadership.

Some of you know that in addition to coaching corporate leaders, I also coach parents of “complex” kids. On a recent call, we were talking about transparency and one Mom asked me, “Is there a downside to being transparent with our kids? Do we lose our power as parents when we share our fears, struggles and emotions?” My experience says no. In fact, just the opposite is true. AND it’s the same in a corporate setting. Here’s why:

Things aren’t always as they seem.

It’s easy to take situations at face value. Sometimes it takes rolling around in the details and looking under rocks to understand what’s really getting in our way. A core barrier to progress is often our own blocks, assumptions, fears and limiting beliefs.

Model transparency for your team.

Transparency is a skill that doesn’t come easily for everyone. Giving team members a model for true transparent leadership, and a best practice of more consistent holographic review, will help your organization to thrive.

Learning organizations thrive.

As fearless leaders, we know that the most successful organizations learn from their challenges and mistakes, and strive for continuous improvement. Transparency is one important tool in the learning organization’s toolbox.

So don’t be afraid to let them see you sweat! Roll up your sleeves in an authentic fashion, and encourage your team members to do the same.  Sure, you might find some skeletons in the closet, but you also could uncover some incredible opportunities along the way.