Does Leadership Transparency Really Matter?

Written by Larry Fehd, CEO & Founder / HPS

Transparency is a popular buzzword, but have you ever considered its literal meaning? Goggle defines as the condition of being transparent: openness, accountability, straightforwardness, candor; synonyms include translucency, clearness, and clarity. In the context of photography, Google defines as an image.

The word image struck me as a reminder of our recent post BELIEFS DEFINE THE LIMITS OF OUR LIVES. Excerpt: “Our reality is defined by our beliefs and is a function of what we project and perceive as reality as opposed to reality itself.” In that post, we introduced Michael Neill’s metaphor, “The mind is much less like a camera and more like a projector.”

Consider this metaphor in the context of a projector and the images that we are projecting. I am not talking about an image we have of ourselves, but rather what others’ perceive as reality based on our transparency (or lack of it). Also, consider your intentions in the context of what you are projecting and the images that others’ perceive. Are you being deliberately transparent or falling prey to LITTLE WHITE LIES?

Regardless, we all know whether we are telling the truth (or some variation or partial truth) and others often get a sense of our truthfulness as well.

Unlike a recent faux pas committed by a high-profile public figure and showcased in the media (i.e. “alternative truths”), transparency does not offer any alternatives. We either are transparent or we are not. Transparency in the context of leadership is an imperative. Being upfront about what we are or are not able to communicate – in a professional or personal context – is the difference that makes a difference.

“A lack of transparency results in distrust and a deep sense of insecurity.”                                        – Dalai Lama

Transparency certainly belongs to any leadership model and especially Invitational Leadership™. A leader’s transparency invites members of his/her team(s) to reciprocate in kind.  This is what leads to a transparent and congruent organization. It is also an essential attribute of invitational leaders who build high-performance cultures, teams and organizations. Sometimes we have to operate in the bubble of our own perceptions and projections, but it is encouraging when it is a transparent bubble.

Invitational leaders perform at their best and inspire the best from others!

Tips and Practical Applications:

  • As a leader, consider asking yourself two simple questions prior to any communication. First, what are my intentions? Second, am I being transparent and is what I am about to communicate congruent with my intentions?
  • As a leader, how confident are you that you are communicating in a transparent manner? It’s perfectly okay to say, “I don’t know yet”; “I don’t have enough information yet”; “I’ll tell you more when I’m confident that I’m telling you the whole truth”. It’s okay to say, that “It’s confidential for now and I’ll tell you more when I’m in a position to do so.”
  • As a leader, are you building and sustaining a culture of transparency? Are you as comfortable communicating the whole truth and maintaining transparency as opposed to deferring to the temptation to communicate only partial or incomplete truths? Have you invited others by your example to become transparent as well? How would misrepresenting the truth or compromising transparency impact your credibility or theirs?

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Larry Fehd


Larry Fehd is CEO and founded Human Performance Strategies (HPS) in 2000 following a successful career with Johnson & Johnson where he led executive leadership, team and organizational development. He is masterful at helping clients to break through inertia and the status quo.  He conceived the new and proprietary concept of Invitational Leadership™. He envisions the future of leadership as a passage beyond inertia and status quo and works with clients to develop invitational leaders at all levels of the organization.  He consults to a diverse group of U.S. and international clientele, and speaks and writes about, building high-performance leaders, cultures, teams and organizations.

(512) 415-0748

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