Transparency might be the most overused business buzzword today. It's also very misunderstood.
But one thing I've come to realize over the years is that transparency actually is essential for business growth.
Without it, leadership is scrutinized, visions are compromised and teams become disjointed. Most entrepreneurs believe they understand what transparency means, but when it comes to implementing it in a company, we often struggle.
Many of us were taught from a young age to hide our vulnerabilities, to build a veneer. We were the kids who "asked too many questions" and were told to "quiet down" in class. And although it may seem like a small thing, I believe many entrepreneurs carry this mindset with them into their adult lives.
I call it Entrepreneurial Suppression. We feel like we need to be the ones with all the answers--that asking for assistance or telling our team about a problem is a sign of weakness. And as we developed into leaders we built systems to bury and divert attention away from these vulnerabilities.
It's also the inclination of many entrepreneurs to be liked rather than respected. We have a perception that transparent conversations must be confrontational in nature. Because of our natural inclination to avoid what we perceive as confrontation, it can be challenging for us to be clear about expectations, especially when they haven't been met in the past.
However, entrepreneurs should understand that transparency is less about confrontation and more about clarity. While sometimes confrontation is unavoidable, it becomes much more avoidable if there's a high level of transparency from the outset. This is the best way to ensure transparent communication within your business.
But there's more to it than that. I consulted to top entrepreneurs and the Fortune 500 for 20 years and I recognized three areas of transparency that are vital for business owners, team leaders and entrepreneurs.
Being transparent with yourself sounds strange. But this is really the foundation for a transparent life. True team alignment starts with the leader. And if that leader is incongruent or unrealistic about the company's capabilities or goals, success will be extremely difficult to find.
Transparent leaders are brutally honest with themselves. They have a clear understanding of the vision, they know which metrics matter for their business and they know what they can realistically expect from their team.
Being transparent with others means not only sharing what results you're looking for, but why you're looking for them. Share your line of thinking with the team. Everyone should understand how the strategies you're implementing will ultimately achieve the vision. Team members should not only understand this vision, they should be fully aware of the role they play in making it happen. Outline individual team members' importance so that they know the specific result they're driving toward. I call this: "Showing the win."
There should be no secrets when it comes to the performance of your company. Every member of the team must be fully aware of the company's financial successes and shortcomings. Failing in this area of transparency is like playing a game without a scoreboard. I can't tell you how many offices I visited where the owner didn't fully understand how their business was performing and the team suffered because of it. It's the leader's responsibility to track key metrics and financials daily. This is the only way to honestly assess where things need to move forward and who can help make that happen.
When entrepreneurs fully embrace transparency in these three areas, their lives become easier and their businesses become fully leveraged. I've seen it time and time again. Although this can be a hard habit to adopt, we're at our best when supported by a fully congruent team. And the fastest way to build that is with transparent communication.
If you're interested in hearing more business growth strategies, or are looking to fully leverage your team. Join me on my free webinar and start making daily strides toward your ultimate vision.