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Transparency – Three Bullets to Clear the Way

Tom and I were talking the other day and the term transparency came up. I asked, “What does that mean, exactly?”

(I find it a lot easier to just come out and admit my ignorance these days. It saves a lot of time and it’s so much easier than pretending I know.)
Anyway, after some discussion and searching on the Internet we settled upon a three bullet “definition” that satisfied us. Ready? Here goes.
  • Clarity,
  • Candor and
  • Communication.
I have to admit that whenever I’ve heard the term used before in conversation I tended to think in financial terms. Whenever somebody was speaking of transparency I heard, “Tell me where the money really is.” or “How many of us are going to be laid off because of this brilliant new strategy or vision or plan?”
Now, as a result of Tom’s and my little tete-a-tete I feel quite comfortable bandying the word around now, because I actually think I know what we’re talking about.
Well, I’m sure you’re thinking, “Isn’t that nice, Gayle? I, too, feel more comfortable knowing you think you know what you’re talking about. And the bullets Clarity, Candor and Communication will come in handy when I write my next PowerPoint. But, why should I care? It’s just more corporate jargon.”
(I love writing blogs. I get to handle both sides of the conversation.)
This is where I jump in with, “That’s the beauty of Tom’s and my three bullets.”
Leaders want people to follow them. With today’s multi-generational workforce transparency sets the right tone to secure buy-in and commitment from all of these diverse would-be followers.
BANG – Clarity, the first bullet.

Napoleon Hill wrote in the classic, Think and Grow Rich, that everything is created twice. First, in the mind and then in the world. Leaders need to be clear in their own mind what it is they want their team to accomplish. If you aren’t clear about the goal and how you’re going to judge success, how can you expect others to achieve your vision?
BANG – Candor, the second bullet.
In Good to Great, Jim Collins relates the story of Admiral Stockdale and his survival as a POW during the Vietnam War. According to Admiral Stockdale the number one indicator of which prisoners were likely to survive and which were less likely was directly related to their ability to accept the brutal facts. Managing expectations plays a large role in maintaining morale.

It’s also a matter of trust. Leaders want their people to trust them. It’s a two-way street. Leaders need to trust their people enough to tell them just where they stand. This relates to finances as I mentioned earlier, but also to goals, available resources, timelines, and obstacles in the way.

BANG – Communication, the third bullet.
Most of us think of delivering information when we hear the word communication. I know I do. But, the great thing about communication is that it ,too, is a two-way street. In the most transparent of organizations communication is a dialogue. A conversation where leaders talk and listen. They listen to their employees. They listen to their customers. But of even greater importance, they watch their employees and customers. They watch not to catch them doing something wrong.
(Most of the in-store surveillance cameras in American retail stores are focused on the employees to thwart “shrinkage”. Corporate jargon for employee theft. Did I mention about trust being a two-way street earlier?)
No, leaders need to watch their employees and customers to understand how they experience working with them. How they experience doing business with them. How they feel having a relationship with them. And when you sense they’re happy or unhappy work to understand why. Then take the appropriate action to leverage the good and correct the less than great.
My Dad used to tell me that I had two eyes, two ears and one mouth and that I should use them proportionately. That mindset drives one of our brand attributes here at Catch Your Limit – We seek first to understand before we seek to be understood.

Yeah, I know we stole it from Stephen Covey, but that’s what great people do, they steal from other great people. Just in case you haven’t noticed the “Not Invented Here” syndrome does NOT flourish here on the other side of Coulda, Shoulda, Woulda.
BANG, BANG, BANG.
Clarity – Have a clear picture of what you want and how you’ll know when you get it.
Candor – Be straight with your people. They can handle the truth.
Communication – Look and listen before you speak.
I’m not going to pretend being transparent will solve all of your problems. Only that if you take aim and practice the three bullet points Tom and I discerned you’ll have fewer problems because your team will be working with you instead of at cross purposes.
BTW, if you’d like to add to this definition or contest Tom’s and my three bullets, please don’t hesitate to give us feedback. We’re listening.
One last thing, we’re looking forward to seeing you Catch Your Limit.

><(("> Gayle Turner

Gayle is a ><(("> Team Member at Catch Your Limit, a consulting firm headquartered in Richmond, Virginia. To learn more, visit www.catchyourlimit.com.


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