Is transparency important for leaders?

In my corporate management job and in several volunteer leadership positions I have held over the years, I make decisions by consensus.  I ask everyone’s opinion and encourage discussion at each team decision point.  I like to do this for several reasons:  It gives junior people more power, more experience, and more personal investment in delivering what we all agreed on.  I also believe that more heads and perspectives are better than one and that group think is often much more powerful.  Finally, I truly value everyone’s opinion and it just feels more fair to me.

Interestingly, I don’t always do a good job of sharing my reasons for choosing a consensus model over other possible approaches.  I just do things that way.  And lately I have been wondering if this lack of transparency can lead others to form their own conclusions about my reasons for this approach.  I realize that, depending on perspective, it could alternately look like I don’t have the answers and/or don’t know what I am doing, so I ask my team all the time.

So these musings have lead me to consider the importance of transparency for leaders.  Transparency is important on may levels.  It builds trust in leaders and the organizations they lead.  It also builds rapport, as others learn who the leader authentically is and what he/she values. When leaders are transparent, people can be much more objective in evaluating the pros and cons about their leader.   If you are transparent, especially during the worst of times, you actually strengthen your leadership as people begin to trust you as person and thus will respect you more as a leader.

Whether you are a leader in your work, your community, your family, or your life, where are you transparent?  Where could you be more transparent?  What benefits would that transparency bring?

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