Transparency: Are You Actively Aware?
By Stephanie Angelo, High Stakes Mastermind Groups and Roger Wolkoff, All About Authenticity
Part 2 of a two-part series.
You would think that defining transparency would be easy. Like many things, it depends on context. The Oxford dictionary tells us that one definition is “having thoughts feelings or motives that are easily perceived.”
It’s not what you might think it means, and it’s not all positive. But maybe you already knew that. Consider this from John Hall:
“When you’re transparent, you invite trust by revealing that you have nothing to hide. You establish yourself as an honest, credible person in the eyes of others. The prospect of being open and vulnerable may make you nervous, but the digital revolution has made transparency a matter of survival.” Source: LinkedIn “Expose Yourself: The Importance of Being Transparent”, Feb 3, 2014, John Hall
Interestingly, if you Google “transparent” or “what does it mean to be transparent” you’ll find that a number of people deem transparency as a negative trait. To them it means not having a filter and being poor liars.
However, as Hall points out, transparency predominantly is a good trait. We concur and to us that means allowing oneself to be read by others, giving others the opportunity to censor inner thoughts and feelings.
It pays to be transparent up front, not only in our personal relationships, certainly in business relationships as well. For example, in 2000 Microsoft reached a $97 million settlement in a lawsuit that was originally filed in December 1992. Microsoft had hired workers as temps, kept them for a year or more and did not provide them with regular permanent employee benefits. A costly lesson, to be sure.
Transparency and Fear
Consider the role fear plays in transparency. “Transparency is moving past fear so we can truly connect with others…” So says Sam Andrews, who dubs herself The Creative Minimalist (theminimalistcreative.net). We think about fear every day. What we do with our fear, how we face it, that’s the true rub right there, isn’t it?
“Transparency is all about decluttering the fear that separates us from other human beings.” More wisdom from Sam, whom we believe is onto something with her “decluttering” metaphor.
Talk about fear – true fear; in 1982 The Chicago Tylenol Murders were a series of poisoning deaths resulting from drug tampering in the Chicago metropolitan area. The drug’s manufacturer, Johnson & Johnson, received highly positive coverage for its handling of the situation. They didn’t hesitate to be transparent, take ownership, and action. An article in The Washington Post said, “Johnson & Johnson has effectively demonstrated how a major business ought to handle a disaster”. Co-writer Stephanie remembers “Even though it was someone’s deliberate action to access the drug and lace it with Cyanide, and not Johnson & Johnson’s doing, they took immediate responsibility”.
Transparency is not hiding behind something from something, or fear.
A fitting story
When transparency works, it works well. Early in his career, co-writer, Roger had a manager who personified transparency. Everyone knew where Sue stood on business decisions, her thoughts on new products, and opinions on marketing. She was the same with her direct reports. Anyone could tell within minutes of meeting Sue that transparency was part of her character, her authentic self. It had a positive and lasting effect on those who worked with Sue.
As a Mastermind group facilitator, Stephanie notes that we also see transparency at work in Mastermind groups. We make the case that the success of the group and its participants depends on the individual contributor’s willingness to be transparent not only with the group, but also with themselves. The two go hand-in-hand. Typically, in a Mastermind, you ask the group to help you and hold you accountable for actions you otherwise might not do. The very nature of the group asks us to stretch ourselves, push our limits, and put ourselves into often-times uncomfortable situations. When we venture outside our comfort zones, we are being transparent, and we are being vulnerable.
Transparency is trust. We think, “When I open up to you, I trust that you won’t hurt me”. And the same is true when you are open with me. The social construct of transparency is like a bunch of people standing around the pool waiting for the first one to jump in and report back how the water is. We’re happy when someone makes the first move. We’re willing to follow them when they tell us, “come on in, the water’s fine.” It’s the same when we interact with others. We’re happy when someone makes the first move. We gauge how much they’re willing to open up before deciding how much we’ll reveal about ourselves.
Call to Action
What are we to do with all this information then when it comes to transparency?
Two specific actions to add to your toolkit:
- Social contract: Honor the Social Contract; the implicit agreement among the members of a society to cooperate for social benefits.
- Legal contracts: Honor them. In cases, like Microsoft as an employer, or you, as a consultant, contractor, employee, or whatever you may be, do the right thing. Skirting around the law is bad for everyone.
At the end of the day, the notion of transparency comes down to choice. How much you give is what you can expect to get. We’re not saying it’s easy. However, nothing worth having is ever easy is it?
Stephanie Angelo SPHR, SHRM-SCP helps companies attract, train and retain employees with keynotes and training focused on company culture of Traction not Transaction. To bring Stephanie to your organization or event, visit https://StephanieAngelo.com , email Stephanie@StephanieAngelo.com , or call (480) 646-2400. Have questions about joining High Stakes Mastermind Groups? www.HighStakesMastermimdGroups.com
Roger Wolkoff will help you discover how emotional intelligence paired with authenticity improves communication, ups productivity, and positively influences culture. Visit https://www.rogerwolkoff.com to connect with Roger and work with him to help you deliver results and grow your bottom line. Roger is a keynote motivational speaker and author from Madison, Wisconsin.
Sources: https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chicago_Tylenol_murders&ved=2ahUKEwiu3MrOtIrkAhUfHzQIHTC_BucQFjAFegQIBRAB&usg=AOvVaw2TLwUTY80hXNVP-90fXwc2 https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=https://www.nytimes.com/2000/12/13/business/technology-temp-workers-at-microsoft-win-lawsuit.html&ved=2ahUKEwjr14iXtYrkAhV0OX0KHa-jAakQFjAGegQIAhAB&usg=AOvVaw3zVwutV98MJCCd9AP3BaR7