The Power of Transparency in Business
Being a die-hard Chicago sports fan, I felt a tremendous sense of disappointment with the Chicago Cubs early 2018 post season exit. Having led their division for most of the season, it felt inevitable that they would make a deep playoff run in hopes of winning another title. Unfortunately, they seemed to have run out of gas towards the end of the season and ended up losing the National League wild-card game 2-1 in 13 innings. What once looked like a very real shot at winning their second World Series title in two years, quickly disappeared. So, what’s this have to do with transparency in business? Read on…
The following day I found myself listening to the Cubs’ President of Baseball Operations, Theo Epstein’s end of season press conference. After experiencing such a deflating way to lose and have your season ended, one could expect to hear excuses and justification for things that transpired during the season. What I ended up hearing was the total opposite. What I heard from Theo was honesty and transparency to the degree one typically doesn’t experience. He spoke about every misstep that he and the whole organization took which led them to their early playoff exit.
After feeling a sense of amazement, I thought, what if every leader approached their business and teams with that degree of honesty and transparency? I decided to attempt to bring that level of transparency to the great team at LeadJen. We started with how the business works and how we make money as an organization. We talked through what it cost to employ each of us and each unique client engagement we currently have. We then discussed all the reasons why we don’t retain a customer and focused on reasons that are within our control (which is a ton) and those that stand outside our control.
After soliciting feedback on the greater level of transparency from teammates, I found the following benefits associated with “extreme transparency”:
- Greater Understanding and Appreciation – There is a great TED talk from Simon Sinek where Simon talks about how great leaders inspire action. Simon boils it down to how great leaders start with the “Why” vs. the “What” or “How”. Being painfully transparent, I believe, allows individuals to truly understand the “Why”.
- Greater Sense of Ownership and Accountability – When you are extremely transparent in business, it seems to build a bond and allow teams to all row in the same direction. Like the great High School Musical says, “We’re All In This Together”.
- High Degrees of Trust – When people experience that level of honesty and trust, it tends to build a level of trust that is often hard to create without people understanding the full picture.
- Tremendous Loyalty and an Extreme Desire To Contribute – Everyone seems to have “leaned in” once we had some of our famous “trust tree” meetings. There are very few times when someone gets surprised nowadays.
We are still striving to be a better organization every day. Through implementing the same level of transparency that Theo Epstein showed during his press conference this fall, I believe this will strengthen our relationships with our teammates and clients, which in turn, will make us a stronger organization for years to come. And, I hope this helps demonstrate the importance of transparency in business and encourages you to do the same in your organization.