Transparency and Vulnerability

In my last post, I began to explore radical transparency from a the example of a client organisation. To lead transparently generates trust. This kind of leadership shows up before people with integrity.

Lead transparently and you generate trust.

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However, a lot of so-called leaders baulk at precisely this invitation to transparency. It is a vulnerable place, and for some, it is far too uncomfortable, dangerous even. They would instead hide; hide in their boardrooms, or behind closed doors; hiding behind unnecessary secrecy, behind the obfuscation of corporate jargon, using information as a weapon rather than for engagement. Or they often pretend, hiding behind a mask. They fear the real them being seen.

The problem is that we are not as stupid as these leaders think. We see through the masks. Eventually. We look for integrity and are disappointed to find hypocrisy. We see through the veil of secrecy for brave leaders, and instead, we see fear.

The shelf life of these less-than vulnerable leaders is short. Soon the game’s up. We see you. We see you for who you are.

By contrast, the alternative is attractive. The warts-and-all leader has experienced shame and dealt with it. They are comfortable with their imperfections. They have a robust "take me or leave me" attitude. They risk vulnerability and show us their true selves. Now, that is leadership that builds trust.

I’ve experienced both kinds. The secretive or pretentious leaders have betrayed my trust more than once and hurt me. So it takes me a while now to trust a leader.

But those authentic leaders I know (and they do exist) can call on me, and I’ll do what I can for them.

I love them, warts and all.

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