Being Transparent: Is it that Hard?


Transparency– An oft used word in today’s corporate world with limited delivery in terms of action. This is a pretty strong judgmental statement.
It’s based on over two decades of experience across industries, employee-organisation relationships and professional interaction during business dealings. Out in my part of the woods the experiential learning leans towards the above and I’m still on the lookout for a learning experience that would aid me to change my mind.

Why is it so hard for us, individually, to bring the habit of being transparent into our daily behaviour?

Is it because of the sociocultural conditioning, we experience in our early years or is it just the so-called norm of corporate behaviour?

Yet when we undertake change management or stakeholder engagement or brand identity programs, consultants, senior management, marketing teams, business advisers all use this word interchangeably and freely!

In leadership, transparency is an effect of ‘being authentic, or in other words, being who you are. When a leader is authentic he or she has an image of being a straight-shooter and the effect of that is transparency. For an organisation blessed with such a leader there is a direct impact of this on the brand identity. The direct impact is in the form of the brand-speak or the key messages the brand communicates. The importance of this is in the value the brand delivers to its stakeholders.

However, more often than not, the word ‘transparency’ would appear somewhere in a document detailing the brands’ identity and personality. But in the processes involved in developing the brand messages, somewhere some of the ‘information’ is ‘not communicated’ in its entirety. Resulting in assumptions, presumptions, and individual interpretations and finally producing a
potpourri where the brand experience is concerned.

Transparency can’t be simply spoken about.

As a cultural-work value it needs to be demonstrated clearly through the actions of the leaders and the influencers. Of course the best way to show this is by living it i.e. practicing it.

If an organisation, in its daily interactions with all stakeholders including its staff, is fully transparent and this interaction is managed professionally i.e. constructive criticism and not gossiping or finding-fault or playing the blame-game, then the process of doing this would create a ‘transparent culture’ i.e. a culture where failure is not penalised as the occurrence of failure will  diminish due to the teams having full understanding and information to do the task at hand.

This behaviour would form part of the ‘brand experience’ that the employees in turn will make the stakeholders experience.

Simply put, the employees would behave, with external stakeholders, exactly as they do in their interactions internally as it would be a habit for them. As a result, the stakeholders would get full and clear information resulting in them trusting the brand more and more which in turn would lead to increasing business for the organisation.