Karin’s Leadership Articles

The Debate Continues: 4 Reasons for More Transparency

by | Oct 29, 2012 | Authenticity & Transparency, By Karin Hurt |

I recently exposed my internal struggle with transparency in a post at Lead Change Group. Sometimes the best debates start in our own hearts. It turns out, that I am not alone in this personal wrestling match, as so many have shared in their tweets, scoops and comments.

“As leaders grow in responsibility, scope and scale, the issue of “transparency” becomes more significant. Executives have insights into confidential strategy, complex nuances, and serious situations. They also have large teams and a customer base watching every move. It’s common practice for leaders to pull back more as they rise in the business, revealing less about themselves as humans. Some chose to show up strong, serious and a bit mysterious. They create professional distance to drive results. On the other hand, there are also examples of leaders who chose to be more open, sharing more about themselves and why they do what they do. And so, I invite an expanded conversation. What is the right level of transparency? What are the pros and cons of being more closed or open? Read more in The Transparency Debate: How Much Should Leaders Share?”

4 Reasons For More Transparency

Every comment was in favor of more transparency. As one reader shared, “the days of playing hide and seek are over.” And so I offer you the collective wisdom from this debate and additional reasons for transparency.

Stronger Alignment

When we are clear about our values, thought processes, and rationale, our teams get a behind the scenes view of our choices. It is far easier for team members to align with a vision they fully understand. As one reader shared, “How can we define our shared purpose (a meaningful hopeful future we all really care about) if we don’t share some of the stuff that is close to our hearts?”

Deeper Trust

Trust begets trust. When we trust enough to share a bit about ourselves and our thinking, the relationship deepens. When we show we trust in the team, they are more likely to reciprocate. When there is less information available, people do what they can to fill in the blanks. Usually the imagined future and actions are far more distasteful than the reality.

Faster Change

In times of change and crises, my experience is that people want as much information as possible. Transparency reduces anxiety, speculation, and chatter. When people are focused on the work, the change moves more quickly and smoothly.

Broader Development

It just makes sense that people will learn more when the are on the inside. They learn more from understanding the nuances behind a decision and from the underlying struggles. Leaders learn from watching leaders. I would argue that transparent leaders also benefit in their own development. By taking more risks and being more vulnerable, you will get more honest feedback and support that you can use in your own leadership journey.

Should You Be More Transparent?

Where do you fall on the transparency continuum?

What information do you feel comfortable sharing?

What do you choose to hold back and why?

What scares you?

Karin Hurt

Karin Hurt helps human-centered leaders resolve workplace ambiguity and chaos, so that they can drive innovation, productivity and revenue without burning out employees. She’s the founder and CEO of Let’s Grow Leaders, an international leadership development and training firm known for practical tools and leadership development programs that stick. She’s the award-winning author of four books including Courageous Cultures: How to Build Teams of Micro-Innovators, Problem Solvers, and Customer Advocates and Winning Well: A Manager’s Guide to Getting Results-Without Losing Your Soul and a hosts the popular Asking For a Friend Vlog on LinkedIn. A former Verizon Wireless executive, Karin was named to Inc. Magazine’s list of great leadership speakers. Karin and her husband and business partner, David Dye, are committed to their philanthropic initiative, Winning Wells – building clean water wells for the people of Cambodia.


  1. Steve Borek

    Transparency is so important.

    When the “T” word is brought up in a meeting, notice the ones that nod their heads and those that cringe of the thought. Leaders are the former.

  2. letsgrowleaders

    Thanks, Steve, I have also noticed that if a leader uses the word a lot, they may actually not agree with it.


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