The Importance of Transparency in Leadership—What You Need to Know

January 23, 2020

If you ask employees which work topics they care most about, transparency in their organization’s leadership will likely be near the top of their list. Yet according to the American Psychological Association, only 52 percent of workers believe their employer is open and upfront with them. That’s too bad because transparency in leadership can spark impressive results that benefit everyone in the organization.

Here, we’ll explain the importance of transparency in leadership and show you how to lead with greater transparency that fosters employee trust and other benefits.

Leading with transparency requires a willingness to be honest and open with your employees.

What Does It Mean to Lead with Transparency?

Transparency in leadership means keeping your employees in the loop, sharing the good and the bad (while not oversharing), and welcoming honest feedback from the members of your team.

There should be no unpleasant surprises, no concerns around uncertainty, and no wishy-washy behavior that may weaken your reputation as a leader. Transparent leaders strive to practice what they preach, set crystal-clear expectations, and communicate effectively with every member of their team.

Leading with transparency requires a willingness to be honest and open with your employees, even if you feel somewhat vulnerable as a result. When employees can see and evaluate everything you do, it’s essential to lead your organization with integrity, in ways that are true to its values. In return, employees will give you their loyalty and trust.

When you lead with transparency, you set a standard for the rest of the company to live by. The importance of transparency in leadership becomes more apparent as it fosters a workplace culture of open communication and accountable behavior for both employees and leaders.

The Results of Transparent Leadership

Once you understand the importance of transparency in leadership and consistently implement transparency, your firm can expect to see additional benefits. Here are a few of the most important ones.

Showing interest and appreciation can humanize you as a leader, making you more relatable in the eyes of your team.

Greater Employee Advocacy

As you choose to be open and honest with your employees, you can help them feel valued by inviting their feedback. By showing your employees how much you value their contributions and opinions, you build a foundation of trust and loyalty that nurtures greater employee advocacy—helping to build your employer brand.

At the same time, showing interest and appreciation can also humanize you as a leader, making you more relatable in the eyes of your team. By presenting yourself as an actual human being (instead of a mysterious boss hidden behind an intimidating office door), you’ll earn greater understanding and support from your employees. They’ll be more likely to accept negative news or open themselves up to constructive feedback if they feel they have a personal connection with you.

Well-Managed Expectations

Withholding information often leads to misunderstandings and unmet expectations. Leading with transparency helps you ensure that both employee and employer expectations are appropriately set and fulfilled. With clear, open, and frequent communication, employees are less likely to make false assumptions about their job or their organization.

Improved Employee Performance

The importance of transparency in leadership is also clear when you consider the positive effect it may have on employee performance. As greater transparency in the workplace fosters greater employee advocacy, these highly engaged employees are more likely to achieve higher performance and productivity in their jobs.

How to Be a More Transparent Leader

Becoming a more transparent leader takes time and effort. It will also take time for the benefits to spread throughout your organization. This may require some thoughtful changes to your managerial approach, but the results will be well worth the effort.

11 Leadership Lessons from Today's Top People Managers

Here are some tips that will help you create a more transparent workplace culture at your company:

  • Establish a consistent policy for you and other leaders to be transparent about business developments and decisions.
  • Conduct regular meetings with the entire company, each department, and individuals to make sure that everyone is informed about new developments, that clear expectations have been set, and that every employee has the chance to stay in the loop.
  • Encourage employees to give honest feedback about company policies and recent changes or announcements. (You may want to use an employee satisfaction survey like ours to do this.)
  • Adopt an open-door policy and ask team members in upper management to do the same.
  • Take the time to get to know your employees and meet with them one on one. Use this time to form personal connections with your employees and express your commitment to transparency.

Understanding the importance of transparency in leadership is the first step toward achieving it. Make a personal commitment to greater transparency starting today and you’ll be well on your way to reaping the benefits.

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Darren Perucci
Content Manager

Darren Perucci is a content manager for BambooHR. He likes to think of himself as a purveyor of all things content related. While he loves finding new ways of reaching new audiences he is passionate about delivering the best experience to readers.