Leading in a transparent way generates trust. Transparency lives before people with integrity.
But transparency is what a lot of so-called leaders shun. Transparency is a vulnerable place, and for some, that is too dangerous. They would rather hide. Either behind unnecessary secrecy, using information as a weapon, or behind a mask.
The problem is that we are not as stupid as these leaders think we are. We see through their mask.
We look for integrity and find hypocrisy. We see through the veil of secrecy and we see fear.
The shelf life of less-than-vulnerable leaders is short. The game is soon up. We see you. We see you for who you truly are.
By contrast, the alternative is attractive. The warts-and-all leader has seen shame and seen it off. They are comfortable with their imperfections. They have a take-me-or-leave-me value that is not arrogant or dismissive but considered. They risk vulnerability and show themselves. That is enduring leadership that builds trust.
I’ve experienced both kinds of leaders. And I’ve been disappointed or hurt. More by the former, so it takes me a while to trust the latter. But those authentic leaders I know – and they do exist – can call on me and I’ll do what I can for them.