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Seeing through it all


…maybe, maybe not.

There’s an awful lot of talk in top management circles trending to the favor-ability of transparent leadership, but reality often dictates the need to exercise the exact opposite, at least for certain situations. Two-facedness? Manipulative? Irresponsible? Lacking integrity? Ruling by exception? Well, even open windows do not always afford a clear view.

When every word you say and move you make is public to all around you, it can be inhibiting to decision making that might be for the good of all involved. Adhering to a policy of transparency can instead take on a neurotic life of its own which can prevent meaningful forward motion.

Consider, for example, the advisability of sharing content of investor or prospective investor discussions as they occur, with all employees. . . or, publicly airing the private meeting critique of an under-achieving employee. Actually, many if not most sensitive-type bits of information might best be kept private and only be shared on a need-to-know basis.

We badger government officials to maintain transparency because they are elected and paid by us to represent our interests, and we are entitled to know what they think and say, and how they behave. But business (thankfully, for the cause of cultivating entrepreneurial spirit and the capitalism that fuels our economy) doesn’t conduct itself that way.

Private enterprise shareholders are entitled to know how business management represents the interests of a given company, but not have a say in every issue. Shareholders are instead invested in the integrity of the management that represents the company they are invested in.

Effective transparent leadership may translate to open-door management for many, but even those who take their doors off the hinges have been known to beef up their effectiveness with periodic whispers and private notes. Because sharing everything with everyone can easily create more problems than it solves.

Another way to think of it is simply that not every organization member is capable of understanding areas of specialization beyond what she or he is directly involved with, and to expect that that’s the case is to invite confusion and delay that will block progress. It’s healthy to look at the total leadership picture before throwing all the doors and windows open.

To paraphrase Lincoln’s famous quote: “You can be transparent to all of the people some of the time, and you can be transparent to some of the people all 0f the time, but you can’t be transparent to all of the people all of the time.”

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Hal@Businessworks.US    302.933.0116

Open Minds Open Doors

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