The Transparent Leader

There are three core values to building successful teams: Trust, Respect & Transparency. It is the leader’s job to shine the light to help the team members through challenges and turbulent times.

52% of workers believe their employer is open and upfront. That leaves 48% of workers who do not have complete faith and trust in their leaders.  Transparency in leadership can spark impressive results that benefit every company. These benefits include creativity, employee retention, and growth.

Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks said: “…currency of leadership is transparency. You’ve got to be truthful… you’ve got to share your soul with people and show them who you are, and not be afraid of it.”

Three benefits of Transparency:

1.            Problems Are Solved Faster

Your team is intelligent and understanding. When they present a solution instead of saying no, explain why the answer is no. Be open about your worries and concerns. For example, in a article, they gave the example of a team that presented a reduced budget every quarter. The team was told them to go back and try again. Finally, when confronted the leader disclosed that if the team didn’t reduce the bottom line by a specific number then he would have to cut jobs, and he didn’t want to scare anyone. Though this leader’s intentions were good and he/she wanted to protect the team, they learned a valuable lesson that problems cannot be effectively solved if there is no transparency.

2.            Greater Employee Advocacy

Transparency is a powerful unifier. Building a team through transparency takes shape when the leader can openly discuss what they believe are the strengths and weaknesses of the team. This allows everyone in the team to openly share perspectives and opinions.  Showing your employees how much you value their contributions and opinion, builds a foundation of trust and loyalty.

3.            Relationships Grow Authentically.

Transparency brings people together. When people are brought together on teams, they learn about character traits that complement one another. The result is a team of unique leaders united.

A transparent leader is:

  • Always honest.
  • Open and accessible.
    • Taking time to get to know your employees.
    • Recently in a leadership series that I conducted the group discussion lead to the importance of leaders taking the time to know their employees. Leaders need to block out time in their schedules to build relationships with their employees. Let them know you truly care.
  • Encourage employees to give honest feedback.
    • Feedback is crucial for continued growth. If we don’t receive feedback we will never know where the growth opportunities are. Employees want to feel valued and needed and they offer a lot so be sure to take the time to encourage them to contribute.
  • Involve people in decision-making.
    • Depending on the company too often the leaders are removed from the front-line challenges. Being transparent is proving the information, encouraging feedback, and including the team in decision making. The outcome will be employees that are invested in the company’s success will create unity, employees will have greater productivity and retention.

Leading with transparency requires a willingness to be open and honest, and showing vulnerability. The most influential leaders are visible and accessible. The ultimate goal of any leader is to build up new leaders and that means putting others first.

Cheryl Viola, Executive Director, MBA


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Llopis, G. (2013, March 7). 5 powerful things happen when a leader is transparent. Retrieved from

Perucci, D. (2020, May 29). The importance of transparency in leadership – BambooHR blog. Retrieved from