• Sunday, July 14, 2024
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BusinessDay

Transparency is the new leadership imperative

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What kind of leaders do we need today? Steve Jobs – mysterious, charismatic – is often cited as a great example, and there are certainly benefits to his style. But that kind of leadership also has its limitations.

Towering personalities make succession more difficult. And, more importantly, there’s no simple formula for being charismatic.

The harder, more rewarding leadership path is to make yourself known – to your employees, your customers and your public. Here are three reasons the new leadership imperative is all about transparency:

To know you is to love you

 Research has shown that money isn’t the best motivational tool. Rather, what will make your staff go above and beyond is their loyalty to you – and you won’t create that dedication if you don’t let them know you as a person. Lunch meetings and feedback sessions are a great place to start. And if you’re managing across continents or your workforce is too large, don’t underestimate the power of video.

Transparency is brand insurance

Paul Levy was the CEO of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, one of America’s best hospitals. In 2006, he launched a blog called “Running a Hospital.” Levy drew accolades for his openness (posting the hospital’s infection rates) and personal touches, such as sharing his passion for coaching youth soccer. Over years of dedicated blogging he built up a reservoir of goodwill – which, it turned out, he’d really need.

 In 2010, Levy admitted to “lapses of judgment in a personal relationship” involving a former female employee. He kept his job but had to pay a $50,000 fine; he resigned half a year later. It was an ignominious end to a respected nine-year tenure – but thanks to his blog, the blow was softened considerably.

You attract like-minded talent 

Blogging started out as a cry in the wilderness. Today, the business case for blogging, tweeting and the rest of social media is a lot stronger. But the result, in many ways, is the same – by putting your voice out there, you attract like-minded people. If you’re a company with unique corporate values, you can broadcast your culture and attract people who think they’d be a good fit.

It’s more essential than ever for leaders to embrace transparency. Employees, customers and shareholders need to understand your vision, your values and your approach.

(Dorie Clark is a strategy consultant who has worked with clients including Google, Yale University and the National Park Service. She is the author of the forthcoming book “Reinventing You: Define Your Brand, Imagine Your Future.’’)