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How transparent leadership affects your business and how to achieve it

I was recently reading a very interesting article by consultant Dorie Clarke on the benefits of transparent leadership and what that means to a business. When we think of great leaders, we often think of the larger-than-life personalities—Steve Jobs, Richard Branson, Mark Zuckerberg—they possess an “almost magical aura” and are looked at as visionaries.

These leaders are both visionary and transparent, but the issue is that not everyone is a Steve Jobs; for those who are not, attempting to be the mystical leader may come off as just being distant. Research has shown that putting a human face on leadership is even more effective than cash in inspiring loyalty in employees. It even motivates your workforce to go above and beyond in its performance.

Transparency starts with reaching out to employees and explaining the thoughts behind decisions. You show your employees why they are doing what they are doing. Think about how far this can go toward inspiring them to get behind your vision for the organization. Even when they disagree with you, explaining your thought process can start a conversation about what can be improved.

If transparent leadership is the answer, then the most obvious question will probably be the “how?.” Different people relate to ideas differently, and communicating your thoughts to them effectively means understanding and adapting to these differences in thought. That starts with matching behavior.

From an Expressiveness standpoint, realize where you stand on the spectrum and where your employees are. You may need to ramp up your gregariousness to meet employees on the outgoing end or provide one-on-one time for employees on the quiet end.

From an Assertiveness perspective, think about whether being accommodating or being driving and telling is going to bring transparency—and results.

Finally, in terms of Flexibility, some situations call for definition and others call for rapid shifts and new perspectives all the time; transparency is about creating the right scenario and communicating that to employees.

In terms of the brain, it obviously makes sense to have different communication strategies for employees with different thought preferences.

  • Conceptual thinkers are all about the long term. To get them on board with your goals for the organization, you need to be able to relate to them how these goals will affect the long-term direction of your organization.
  • Social thinkers relate to ideas through people. With these employees, it is a good idea to discuss the thought processes that lead you to your decisions. It is also important that you actually listen to them, take their suggestions seriously, and make sure that discussions are two-way conversations.
  • Analytical thinkers are people who are all about real quantifiable proof, and who often question the ideas placed before them. In order to effectively communicate your goals and ideas (and create transparency) to Analytical thinkers, you need to be able to show them the proof that your idea is valid, or at the very least present a logical argument for your idea, so they can understand where you are coming from.
  • Structural thinkers need structured ideas. This means presenting your goals and ideas along with a measurable plan of action. These people will understand you better if your leadership utilizes extensive planning, logical steps, and measurable goal markers, so that your structurally minded employees will have a process to work with.

At Emergenetics, we feel that understanding individual thinking preference is one of the keys to truly effective communication, which can ultimately lead to transparent management and all the benefits that go along with it.

Thanks to Dorie Clarke for the great article!

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