What Does Business Transparency Mean?

Beth Miller |

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Like people, organizations are continually growing and evolving. Like people, the trajectory they’re on is as important to their core identity as any of their static features. So if you want your employees to really understand your organization and get on board, you need to be open and transparent every step of the way.

In other words, you need to communicate, and do so early and often.

Transparency is one of the biggest untapped resources a company can have. It’s a policy that serves to include, inform and motivate all in one fell swoop. But it’s easier said than done. And as a leader, it starts with you. So how do you build a culture of transparency, right from the top? According to Barbara and Elizabeth Pagano authors of The Transparency Edge, some of the top things to do as a leader to increase your transparency are:

Share results

This is the easy first step that will get the ball rolling–there’s no question that you should be sharing results with team members. Project outcomes, feedback from clients and quality assessment data. The more your team knows, the more invested they’ll feel.

Then, take it to the next level by sharing not only your results, but your thoughts and feelings about it. Your openness sends a clear message about honesty.

Building a culture of honesty

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‘Leading by example’ is a saying for a reason. If you’re honest and open with your employees, it’ll be a clear reflection of the values of the company. And if your team sees you and your company as honest and open, it’ll motivate them to be the same way. Like any aspect of corporate culture, it begins at the top.

Ask for feedback

One of the most valuable things about an organization built on honest communication is it creates a space where you’re able to ask for honest feedback. But it goes both ways: an honest list of the pros and cons of your leadership history won’t mean much if you’re not prepared to hear it.

Learn to take advice in the spirit with which it was intended. Cultivate an inner circle of people whom you can trust for an honest accounting of your leadership style. Then, when they offer feedback, take it and learn from it. 

Admit your mistakes

One of the most important skills you’ll learn as a leader is how to admit your mistakes and do it gracefully. The key is remembering that it’s not about a public shaming, it’s about keeping your employees in the loop about what you’ve learned, and what you’ll do differently in future.

Like many successful business strategies, transparency comes back to communication. If they feel like you’re open and honest, they will be too.

Beth Miller

Beth Miller

Beth Armknecht Miller’s passion for learning, and dedication to helping others, are strands woven throughout her distinguished career, which continue to guide her work with Executive Velocity, a top talent and leadership development advisory firm. As a trusted executive consultant, Vistage Chair, and committed volunteer, Beth holds herself to a rigorous standard of excellence, and she encourages her clients to do the same when pursuing their goals.

Comments (1)

  • Bill Fotsch


    Beth, I appreciated your article on transparency, a topic of great interest to me, as you know. I would suggest in business the focus should be on economic transparency. Companies like Southwest Airlines, Capital One and BHP Billiton, (clients of mine), treat their employees like trusted business partners, enabling them to make more money for their company and themselves. They see profits and engagement soar. This Forbes article provides more background: http://www.forbes.com/sites/fotschcase/2016/05/31/engage-your-employees-in-making-money/
    Minneapolis based Carlson Travel is a great example, as can be seen in their 3 minute call center video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-RJAEHPOxPQ
    Let me know if you would like to discuss… Best wishes,


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