Transparency is a powerful leadership tool for building rapport. Within teams and management, it can help connections form and is a vital element of trust. Even for consumers, transparency is becoming more of a hot-button issue. According to a Forbes article referencing brand studies, 90% of consumers say transparency factors into their buying decisions. Here are four ways you can practice transparency in your business and team.
Honesty is always the best policy; it isn’t just an adage. Transparency means communicating the information you have to the best of your knowledge in a complete way. It is easy to omit certain pieces of information to protect the company’s image or agenda. Honesty is using tact to deliver news without omission or commission. Avoid leaving out important and relevant information as this could be detrimental to trust in the long run. This doesn’t mean oversharing, but it means strategically sharing what will matter to employees. Even if news is hard to deliver like layoffs or cutbacks, employees would rather know than not. They are also more likely to trust a leader that they know will be honest in a difficult situation.
When it comes to transparency, timing is everything. Don’t side-step topics because they are hard or wait until information is no longer relevant. Having employees find out something they should have heard from you from someone else can make management seem avoidant or dishonest. The key is sharing honestly at the right time.
From vision casting to managing change, be sure to cultivate empathy and transparency. Put yourself in the shoes of the people you are communicating with. What would you be thinking or feeling? Transparency in leadership that actually builds rapport doesn’t mean blurting something out. Cultivate a communications strategy. Plan ahead of time what needs to be shared and how it can be verbalized in a clear, considerate way. Make time for questions within your team or from your employees. You may not have all of the answers, and that’s okay. Allowing employees to be part of the conversation helps you understand what information they need.
Part of transparency in leadership is follow-through. It is doing what you say you will do and being accountable for your actions and words. Managers set the tone of the office. If you want employees to maintain a respectful, honest workplace, model that. Great leaders don’t simply hold others accountable, they practice what they want to see. Employees are more likely to duplicate your behavior over your words.
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