In the March 2016 Entrepreneur Magazine, there was a great article about 22 Must Have Leadership Qualities. I found the article to be so powerful that I am spending a few minutes each week thinking about how I can improve these leadership skills myself. Like most things in life, you get what you focus your attention on.
#3 on the list of 22 must have leadership qualities is Transparency.
As a former Senior Financial Analyst, when I hear the word Transparency, my mind instantly moves to the financial world and the practice of allowing employees and stakeholders to have a look at budgets, P&Ls and any other non-classified financial statements. While I find this to be important in some environments it seems as though the reason for including transparency in the 22 Must Have Leadership Qualities was in relationship to something synonymous with transparency; authenticity.
What You See Is What You Get Leadership (WYSIWYG)
Rather than talking about transparency in a cerebral and esoteric instance, it makes more sense to me to discuss transparency and authenticity simply as “What You See Is What You Get – WYSIWYG”. For me, someone that works with HTML and coding regularly, the term WYSIWG makes a lot of sense when applied to leadership and this discussion of transparency. WYSIWYG in terms of computer programming and software is the responsiveness of the display when you are typing. So as you type or write code your program you are able to see the results instantaneously.
As a leader, the ability to be transparent and authentic with those that you manage is very important as you are looked to for setting the tone and culture of the company. You don’t want to be saying one thing with your words and another with your actions. You truly want your actions to be “What You See is What You Get” and congruent with everything you do at work. This is one of the reasons why regular and personal communications is paramount to any leader’s success. It’s one thing to say something but it’s another to follow up with actions.
Being transparent and letting your team know what’s happening within the company helps to create transparency and authenticity while providing a higher trust level. When this trust level can be elevated, you can begin to have real wins with your team as they begin to share more, care more and work harder as they feel as though they are contributing to the company’s goals. Without an understanding of the leader’s expectations and goals for the team it’s impossible to ever be truly successful since you always miss the mark. So be authentic and feel free to share not only the good, but also the bad with the team. There is a point where you can share too much and be too transparent… so it’s important to consider when to share, how much to share and how to share sensitive information. After all, you don’t want your willingness to be transparent and authentic to back fire on you and lead to poor performance.
The next leadership quality on the list is INTEGRITY.