If we want to be authentic, we must be transparent. Transparency holds us accountable to being who we say we are. Transparency removes the mask with which shield our identity. It’s difficult to be fake when there is nothing to hide behind. Transparency demands vulnerability. The key to authenticity.
Leaders should be transparent. Transparency is an effective way to hold ourselves accountable, enable trust and encourage engagement. It is bold. It unlocks boundless potential. It is risky.
I decided to embrace transparency and pursue authenticity as a person. It is a journey I struggle with. I imperfectly try to know myself and be myself. I aim to be the same person in spite of the environment, setting, pressure, circumstance or politic. Home, work or play, I desire to be the same person. There is freedom being authentic. And pain.
I don’t have it figured out. That is why I write. It is how I process thoughts and learn insights from leaders like you. Here are a few things I do to walk the journey of transparency in leadership. Good and bad. So far.
Post-Performance. I am thankful to serve in a progressive organization that posts performance outcomes. Everything from quality metrics to community benefit. Embrace this same practice for our customers. Post real-time service metrics like customer satisfaction related to incidents and mean time to resolve. Publish performance metrics like service requests mean time to deliver and customer satisfaction. Make everything visible and deep. Allow customer drill downs into their specific business or clinical unit for details.
Personal Performance. Make your personal performance dashboard visible. Lay it all out there. Customers can see how you are doing based on objectives and key results for the year. If we want to prove credible to our customers, we must be brutally honest. There is nothing like data to hold ourselves accountable. Vulnerability is hard but good.
Beliefs. Don’t push your faith on anyone. But also don’t hide your beliefs. Be unashamed of your faith in the workplace, home, community or house of worship. Beliefs are constant and part of the authentic self.
Home. We often invite co-workers to our house. Simran and I love to entertain, and we do not believe in artificial barriers between professional and personal life. You can be friends with those you serve with. The tighter the bonds, the tighter the team. Familiarity does not breed contempt.
Social Media. I am a bit more cautious here, having been burned in the past. I don’t mind sharing with those genuine. Once a “friend” pulled a harmless picture from Facebook and sent it to management. Another reported poetry I wrote to Simran. Both cases served as a reminder to be cautious. But not intimidated. I still post pictures and poetry.
Speaking. Content is only one reason messages resonate with audiences. Many speakers’ content and expertise are superior, but they struggle to relate to their audience. Being transparent enables your audience to see you as human and connect. When you speak, share from your heart. Vulnerability eats content for lunch. Together they are unstoppable.
Weekly Blogs. Blog weekly to your team about things both personal and professional. Most appreciate the style and frequency and are more likely to engage. Invite all team members to contact you directly. Some will. The deeper the transparency, the deeper the engagement. Customer Interactions. Conduct weekly direct reports meetings jointly with your customers. Yes. Rotate your weekly meetings to correspond with customers’ executive meetings. Meet routinely with all hospital executive teams, clinical institute leaders as well as peer teams. You must know your customers, share from your heart, and remain accountable to them.
Tech Walks. Set aside time for “Tech Walks.” Hold them early mornings and evenings to accommodate clinician schedules. Walks are informal gatherings where anyone can meet up with you and talk tech while getting their steps in. These are my favorite meet-ups. Formal meetings are not as effective as individuals are less likely to speak up. Informally they realize we are just like them and easy to talk with. Informal talks yield 10 fold returns.
Volunteer. I won’t go into detail here except to encourage you to do it. Keeps you humble, grounded and transparent.
Mea Culpa. Freely admit failure. Take accountability when things go wrong. When you make a mistake everyone knows it. Why not be the first to admit it? Don’t ever gloss over errors or try and cover them up. It is what it is. You can only heal hurts if you first admit the wound and acknowledge the pain.
Not everyone likes a transparent leader. Some will take advantage of your vulnerability. There will be pain. Offending a few is a small price to pay. Push on for the greater good. Engagement increases, passions formed, relationships restored and partnerships built. Quantum transformation only happens when leaders fully embrace transparency.