Do you Lead with Transparency or Power?

June 30, 2010

I am starting to ask some trusted fellow consultants to provide guest articles on my BLOG. Here is an excellent entry from Jonena Relth of TBD Consulting. Jonena is the President and Leadership Evangelist of this firm that specializes in Organization Development and Training. I hope you enjoy this entry as it provides an interesting perspective on conventional wisdom about leadership.    – – –   Bob Whipple

I’ve been watching over the past few years as the topic of leadership continues to be top priority of “healthy” companies.  They are pulling out all the stops to provide every opportunity available to help their leaders improve their skills in this area – and this when so many high-profile leaders have fallen from grace in the recent years.  Instead of shrinking from the topic, these smart companies are pushing it to the forefront.  They know that to succeed, their organizations have to be led by individuals who inherently are worthy of their employees’, customers’ and peers’ trust, and it’s these leaders who will be followed in the days and years to come.

Have you noticed that as a country, we start paying closer attention to what our corporate and political leaders say and do following the failure and/or fall of otherwise respected leaders?  And given the leadership issues today, one would have to ask, “Why would anyone want to be a famous leader?” My vote is for the rush of power!

Power gives us a head trip that makes us “feel” as though we are important and respected by others.  The flip-side however, is that the more power we have, the more responsibility we have, the more headaches and illness that plague us, the more scrutiny we endure, and of course, ultimately less time to spend for ourselves and loved ones.

If one thoroughly understood what would happen should we scrape our way to the top in politics, for instance, only a sadist would want what I call “Power-Leadership” – – but yet it’s the way of our culture to want to gain credibility, fame, fortune.  Unfortunately, getting to the top this way leads to loneliness.  Why do I say loneliness?  Well, how many famous leaders do you know that remain on friendly terms with all their employees, direct reports, bosses, etc.?  Not many I’d guess.

There is another way and it’s a path that leads to a rewarding career leading others.  With leadership comes the responsibility to accept the daunting job that says, “The buck stops here.”  But, it’s the wise leaders that surround themselves with talented people who know more than they do in their particular areas of expertise.  These leaders use transparent leadership to build a self-sustaining, well-run, profitable, nice place to work kind of business.  And, these leaders don’t suffer the pain of “Power-Leadership.”

Women, by nature, tend to flourish in organizations that encourage true transparency and team decision-making.  We are more interested in getting the job done than making the decisions in a vacuum.  Yes, we get a “high” once in a while from being recognized for our leadership, but it’s most rewarding to have our leadership style recognized as the reason our teams are working cohesively and the company is profitable and stable – – meeting the needs of our customers, employees and community.

As I’m sure I’ve mentioned in earlier blogs, I’m no Pollyanna, and I know that the role of leaders is not an easy one.  Transparent leadership takes the courage to openly admit mistakes, the self-esteem to allow others more capable to lead, and the fortitude to pursue your goals while enhancing the goals of others. Transparent leadership sounds like a worthwhile goal to me.  What about you?

If you would like more information on Coaching, Leadership, Training and Organizational Development, please call our office at 602-263-1961.  And while you’re at it, peruse our new website.  We’ve uploaded lots of information so you can take a “test drive” and find out what makes TBD Consulting tick!  We’ve been around for 20 years and my bet is that we just might have the solution(s) to your most pressing employee performance issues!


Trust & Transparency The New Corporate Currency

February 2, 2010

In just a few years, Trust and Transparency have moved from an also-ran position in the line up of the things that are important to US Corporate reputation to the number one and number two slots. This represents an unprecedented recent shift in the perceived importance of trust and transparency in organizations. Let’s take a peek at some data.

In 2006, the top three items mentioned by respondents to the Edelman Trust Barometer Survey were:

1) Quality products and services 53%, 

2) Attentiveness to customer needs 47%, and

3) Strong financial performance 42%.  

By the 2010 survey, The top three items were:

1)  Transparent and honest practices 83%,

2) Company I can Trust 83%, and

3) High Quality products or services 79%. 

The astonishing thing is that financial returns dropped from number three on the list to number 10 in just 4 years.  Note that “Financial Returns” in 2010 were still important coming in at 45% versus 42% in 2006. It is just that Trust and Transparency showed up as being far more important – nearly twice as important as financial returns in terms of what is important for a company’s reputation. Put another way, without Trust and Transparency, good financial returns are not going to be sustainable.

For the past decade Richard Edelman and his team have surveyed people around the world. They interview about 5000 people a year. These are college educated professionals from 25 to 65 years old in the top quartile of income and who are savvy about domestic and world events. The data are then analyzed for trends and reported with detailed analysis. The study is about the things that are driving trust in all major countries. The focus of the survey is on three main sectors, Business, Government, and NGOs (Non-Government Organizations).

For the business sector in the United States, these data ring out a signal that is loud and clear. Edelman put it this way:  “Trust, absolutely, is now a product for companies to pursue and pursue avidly. Why? Because it enables company performance and stock price to prosper. We see an interlinking of share price and trust.”  He notes a dramatic correlation between his Trust Barometer and the S&P 500 index over the past several years.

If your company is not measuring the level of trust and actively managing it, you are not focusing on the right things. Seek, through education, to understand these variables and how to obtain and maintain high trust in your organization. It is extremely powerful.