Transparency & Truth: The Fourth Power Skill for Leaders in a New Era
To successfully lead companies and inspire people, leaders need to develop new capabilities. A new type of leader is needed to inspire and lead their people – one who engages their heart and soul as well as their capabilities, blending their analytical and whole human skills.
There are seven Power Skills that help leaders do just this:
- Self-Awareness & Capacity for Growth
- Empathy & Compassion
- Ego-Awareness & Humility
- Transparency & Truth
- Resilience & Emotional Intelligence
- Servant Leadership
Let’s take a closer look at the fourth: Transparency & Truth
- Truth – This is the quality or state of being true or honest. Truth is fundamentally verifiable, based on fact or principle. When mutually agreed upon in groups or organizations, truth can be a foundational value to create strength through unity and resonance. However, these factual and logical experiences are often juxtaposed against individual and collective beliefs that shape the interpretation of the truth. It’s helpful then to look at these three versions of truth:
- Durable Truth – immutable, undeniable, core, fundamental;
- Emerging Truth – a new set of core beliefs and principles that guide the process of evolutionary change and development;
- Shared Truth – collective agreement and beginning of new durable truth
- Transparency – is the practice of sharing truth. This can happen along a spectrum, from obfuscation up through full transparency. The level of transparency serves as the vehicle for the truth to flourish. When managing organizational evolution, transparency is the bridge that allows movement from durable truth to new personal and collective truths, or a new shared reality. It is also the container within which a healthy culture can thrive.
What would it take for leaders to deepen truth and transparency within their organizations?
Select Micro-practices for Transparency and Truth:
- Open Communication—shared, open-source information so that people have what they need to do their jobs efficiently and effectively. Have context for activities and so they know what their work is aiming to do. Enables them to see their spoke in the wheel.
- Check for mutual understanding—when there is debate, dispute, or conflict, there are different truths being held at the same time. How can you create safety for sharing personal truth so that the real issues can be unearthed and resolved in order for progress to flow unblocked.
- Make the process explicit—ensure there are both formal and informal ways for truthful information to flow. Remember that while enforcing policies, the rule may be necessary and that the enforcement can be humane, connected, empathetic, and allow for truth to exist. Let people know explicitly that they are valued within this process. Make space for alterations to occur that favor people over process and rules.
- Make room to ‘Feel’ Truth— often, we can feel truth before we know truth. As human beings, our bodies have the capability to sense things that are not quite right. Evolutionarily, this is a biological factor that allowed us to protect ourselves from danger. Things that ring hollow or are not true are felt by people, even if it’s not explicit. As leaders, we have this capability to sense, but often slow down enough to notice. When you sense something as being ‘off,’ most likely it IS. When you notice something is not quite right, try this:
- Recognize in your body where you sense the misalignment. By getting to know your own signals, you can better tune into this sensing as a skill. It usually shows up in our ‘gut’ which is the center of our instincts. Find your internal alarm system and pay attention when you sense it when it goes off.
- Ask yourself “Why is this triggering me?” “What is it trying to show/tell me?” Does it feel familiar and what is the story behind this? The more you understand how you’re involved in the story, the more neutral you can be when addressing the truth as a leader.
- Make a list of neutral questions you can ask to determine the truth. The more you confirm your sensing over time, the more you will come to rely on your intuitive self to develop your greater capacity as a leader.
Building a culture of trust from leaders to teams to clients first relies upon having trust at the top levels of the organization. Top-level agreements and modeling of truth and transparency are essential to have a culture reflective of these values. The payoff is higher commitment and productivity.
Some questions to help you build Transparency & Truth in your organization:
- What are your organization’s agreements that allow you to speak your truth and share different perspectives? Look at meetings, HR policies, decision-making, and communications. What do you notice?
- What are your personal narratives regarding truth, trust, and transparency? What is your relationship to these values? How can you get support to build your capacity to lead with these important power skills at this time?
- How do you tap into personal courage and commitment to lead with truth and transparency?