Transparency Is The Key To Good Leadership

Transparency is the key to good leadership

As the leader of 11 offices in 25 separate countries, I’ve had a lot of experience with the highs and lows of leadership, and I like to think I’ve learned a fair amount about what it takes to make things work for yourself, your customers, and your teams.

Just ten years ago, a successful business leader was likely somebody who came into the office and helped their team to turn profits.

Today, it’s a lot more complex than that.

With hybrid working becoming the new normal, employee expectations changing all the time, and customers facing a wealth of challenges caused by an increasingly turbulent economic landscape, a successful leader must do a lot more than “make money”, and it’s more important than ever to make sure you’re getting it right.

Some of the same lessons still apply in this new environment: focus on your customer first and foremost, listen carefully to the needs of your workforce, and maintain a flexible leadership style.

But one stand-out lesson I’ve learned that may not have been so high on the agenda in previous years is the importance of transparency.  

Why we need to be transparent in 2022

Fact: with rising business costs, geopolitical conflict, and the economic aftermath of the pandemic to contend with, no budget is guaranteed.

In a recent interview, our CEO Bill McDermott explained,

“You’re going to see the headwind of the dollar right now against well-known technology brands. No one’s going to outrun the currency right now.”

Granted, nobody likes hearing this, but for companies of all shapes and sizes all across the globe, it is our reality right now. Admitting that the landscape is challenging right now isn’t overly-pessimistic, or a misguided attempt at fear-mongering — it’s just being honest.

And we need that transparency now more than ever. 

Only by acknowledging the problems businesses are facing today can we work out practical solutions to them. Being straight-forward means you can establish a level of trust that allows you to work with your customers using the resources available, rather than skirting around issues, tearing through budget, and ultimately facing problems later down the line.

To paraphrase Bill, a focus on currency just isn’t cutting it anymore.

Instead, we need to focus on building relationships — with both employees and customers alike — that are built on trust. Doing so is one of the only ways we can ensure we’re meeting their needs, and supporting them to innovate and improve through even the most unpredictable economic conditions.

What we mean by transparency

Transparency in business can mean a lot of different things, but ultimately it’s about good communication — not just with your external customers, but with your employees, too.

With so much of the workforce doing their job remotely, it’s not as easy to keep everyone in the loop as it once was. Today, you may need to go out of your way to ensure your teams are kept up to date about the state of the economic landscape, any structural changes to the business, or even client news.

What this looks like will vary from business to business. It may be that you implement more regular check-ins or team meetings, or it may be that you need to put out an employee survey to gauge current employee attitudes towards management before you make any changes.

Whatever the solution looks like, the goal should always be to be as open and honest with your workforce, so that they can be open and honest with your customers.

Looking to the future of leadership

For me, the measure of a good leader in today’s environment can be summed up by how well you handle the ‘three Ps’.

  • People
    • Are you taking care of your people? Are you listening to them, putting their needs first, and giving them everything they need to thrive?
  • Performance
    • How is your team doing right now? Is it running smoothly, or do you need to step in and give it additional support?
  • The public
    • Are you communicating what’s going on to the outside world, be it your customers, stakeholders or audience? Are you being transparent and honest about where you’re at, and how you can help?

If you get these three things right, especially in today’s landscape, it’s safe to say that you’re on the right track and ready to lead in a future where nothing is guaranteed.

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