Friday, July 30, 2010

Ten Aspects of Strong Leadership: Point #6

Up to this point a number of key attributes for leaders have been discussed, with yesterday's discussion on integrity being the most important one in my opinion. But integrity alone will not make you a great leader. I have seen some truly ethical and well intentioned people in a leadership position fail because they did not possess the other skills required. Today we will cover one of those skills.

6) Be transparent

This sounds easy to do, almost a passive exercise. But in reality it is a challenge for most leaders. It goes against many people's natural instincts. Some leaders, particularly insecure ones feel threatened by others. They live by the adage that "Knowledge is power". Actually this is true. But rather than empower all those around them with knowledge, some leaders feel this gives away their power. The more confident leaders tend to share information readily.

Now this can be taken too far. For example I do not agree with the speaker I alluded to in an earlier post who suggested that hospital CEOs conduct their business in the hospital lobby in front of everyone. There are sensitive and confidential issues discussed which must occur in private. But key decisions affecting the organization should be readily shared with all employees on a timely basis.

I used to hold a management meeting for all mid level managers and above the morning after each Board meeting to share all the important issues discussed and decisions made. I also met with all employees at least quarterly (this means covering three shifts) to share the organization's performance measures, both good and bad. Employees loved it. They were surprised sometimes that some not so good news was being shared. But they also took ownership in these performance metrics and improved their overall performance.

By sharing information with all employees you empower them and build their trust. A few may abuse this trust, but they probably didn't belong in your organization in the first place.

More on leadership next week.

Mark Brodeur

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