Transparency: A Culture of Belief & Leadership

In late June, Russian jets flew over Canada to conduct observation flights and verify objects of interest or concern. This exercise is in accordance with the “Treaty on Open Skies”, which was created in 2002 to promote increased confidence and transparency between the 34 nations who signed (read the Toronto Start article here.). As I read this article, I started to think about the concept of openness and transparency in leadership.

How important it is to develop a robust culture where people buy in. The best cultures are places of truth, constant communication, and marked transparency. Managers in these cultures share even the hard truths with their employees as soon as they can and they encourage debate even if it rattles harmony. To be truthful and direct builds trust.

Are you a leader that is trusted by your employees?

Do you wonder “Why Aren’t They Giving Their All?”

While most leaders understand that their most reliable competitive advantage comes from their people, few of them actually know how to get people “all in” – convincing employees to truly buy into their ideas and the strategy they’ve put forward, to give that extra push that leads to outstanding results.

It’s not for lack of effort.  Most leaders I meet seem to be bending over backwards for their people, and yet overall performance isn’t improving, or not nearly enough.  This is backed up by data.  Employee engagement scores haven’t improved much at most organizations after years of effort, and companies aren’t seeing markedly greater amounts of innovation.

Something’s missing.  It’s culture.

Whether you, the leader, are managing the smallest of teams or a region of a global organization or a multinational, you are the proud owner of a culture and it’s important to understand that the effectiveness of that culture will have a big impact on your performance. If your culture is clear, positive, and strong, then your people will buy into your ideas and cause, and most important will believe what they do matters and that they can make a difference. That enthusiasm and energy will spread. On the other hand, if your culture is dysfunctional – chaotic, combative, fearsome, or indifferent – employees will most likely spend more time thinking about why the people sitting next to them should be fired than getting fired up themselves.

Maya Angelou has said “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

A little stroke of kindness to your employees will go a long way……the secret of moving a business forward is getting your working population and culture to differentiate you.

If you’ve worked in enough jobs, you’ll know that cultures can vary dramatically, even if they belong to one large organization that is split into different geographic regions. There could be different cultures in each region! There are workplaces of outright dysfunction, contention, coasting and even back stabbing.  There are  some cultures that produce impressive financial results but also high employee turnover and burnout.  There are cultures where they put a gun in your back on day one and pull the trigger and if you stop running the bullet’s going to get you.  I could go on and on but you get the point…that the most profitable, productive, enduring cultures are places where people lock into a vision with conviction, and maintain excitement not out of fear but out of passion.

They are cultures where people believe.  Great leaders create unique, inviting and profitable places to work.  Today’s successful business leaders are less the tyrannical symphony conductor of yesteryear, but they also haven’t bent over so far backward in their sensitivity that they have lost their focus.  The modern leader provides the why, is agile and open, treats their people with deference, and creates a place where every step forward is noted and applauded.

There are 3 key ways employees must feel to have a culture of belief — engaged, enabled and energized.

Leaders, think about this:

  • Do you have employees that care about the organization but are burnt out?
  • Do you have people who are energized to do big things but feel stifled?
  • Do you have employees who care but aren’t always focused on the right behaviors?
  • Do you have trusted advisers and followers who have their own agenda and surround you with denial and present you biased views?

If the answer to any of the above is a yes, there are steps available in leadership and culture training that are crucial in bringing about a culture of belief.

You have to remember one very important thing, when employees are happy that will translate to the customers.  Your customers will want to be associated with an organization that has a healthy culture of belief and has employees that are engaged, enabled and energized.


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