Transparency in Leadership

That’s me on the right – and an employee of mine, Alicia, on the left. And the two of us are wearing the same earrings because I bought them for us to wear during her performance review last year.

Performance Review? For me, performance reviews are a formal moment to summarize every conversation we’ve had for the 12 months previous to this date. Because we all know that GREAT managers talk to their people about their performance all the time; not just once a year.

Now, what do fishing-luresque earrings and performance reviews have to do with transparency in management?

A lot.

In fact, this picture, once you know the setting behind it, may make you question the fact that I am Alicia’s boss. Because we’re wearing the same earrings, really smiling, and embracing arm in arm. Not what most may think of when they picture a boss-employee relationship.

This picture may even feel uncomfortable for some; the thought of being arm in arm (an embrace) with their manager may be awkward for them. And I get it – I’ve not wanted to embrace all of my managers either. Some of them? For sure – because we had a relationship, a friendship, and a lasting demonstration of trust and compassion.

Transparency in management is one trait, among many, that great managers have in order to maintain relationships with their employees, that flourish.

At the time of this photo, I was leading a small and mighty group of 6 people who were responsible for administrating a learning management system, and organizing and creating the learning for an organization of 14,500 Associates. The only reason we were so mighty, aside from incredible talent, is the transparency within which we operate.

Everyone knows everything. No exception. And that is no small feat because a true foundation of respect and trust must be in place for full disclosure to occur.

Or is it the other way around? Does transparency and full disclosure build respect and trust?

No, it doesn’t. I was right the first time – at least in my humble opinion.

I have discovered, that when you build relationships on the foundation of caring for people, they will care for you in return. And in that bubble of mutual caring lives respect and trust. Once inside the bubble, everything can be laid on the table and spoken about without masquerade or filter. And within this bubble, the magic begins to happen. Because when people know what’s going on they get to contribute their best to its success.

And on this team of 6, every. single. one. was in the know.

I had a consistent practice – every time I onboarded a new employee I shared with them my management philosophy. This included HOW I operated as a manager. Being transparent with the information I was given, was one of the promises made. I promised, that I would share information that I had regarding the organization, as soon as I had it, as long as I was free to share it.

In return, I asked that any time they heard things that they had yet heard from me, to come to me directly and ask about it rather than spread the rumours throughout the team or beyond.

The intention of this is to better manage change and deal with ambiguity. People respond so much more effectively when you provide them with information as it comes. Giving early notice and developments along the way allows people to feel part of the process. Being ‘in the know’ is a show of respect to each employee.

Emotionally intelligent leaders know how to leverage 4 skills within emotional intelligence to master TRANSPARENCY IN LEADERSHIP.

  1. Self-expression – openly expressing one’s feelings verbally and non-verbally. Be sure that you are always aligned with your body language and expressions, and your words.
  2. Interpersonal relationships – in order to self-express you must have mutually satisfying relationships built on trust and compassion.
  3. Empathy – when it’s time to share information and keep people in the know, there will be a lot of questions; especially when final decisions aren’t made. Empathy is the ability to understand and recognize how other people feel by acknowledging the reality of their perspective.
  4. Assertiveness – involves communicating feelings, beliefs, and thoughts openly and defending personal rights and values in a way that is non-destructive and non-offensive to others. Early information often changes…it’s important to be CLEAR in what is real and what is still ‘up in the air’ or ‘undecided’.

Combining these skills and demonstrating them in leadership reaps many rewards:

– dealing with ambiguity and adjusting on the fly

– managing change much more effectively and smoothly

– reducing gossip and the spreading of false information

– avoiding pre-judgement on partial information


Not to mention, incredibly lasting and important relationships!


Teresa Quinlan
Teresa Quinlan
Teresa Quinlan, Executive Coaching, Leadership Development, Speaker, Consultant. An Entrepreneur and Founder of her personal brand and the formula IQ+EQ=TQ, Teresa is passionate about emotional intelligence as the key ingredient to leveraging your IQ and personality and achieving the greatest levels of performance success. Teresa has been focused on transforming individuals, teams, and organizations to greater levels of performance since 1998 and has experienced leading teams and organizations through the highest of highs and the most challenging changes. Having spent over 25 years cultivating a rich and diverse set of skills, knowledge, behaviours, coaching and training new and experienced leaders, and mentoring, Teresa has developed shoot straight coaching, training, and mentoring techniques which foster opportunities for sustainable behavioural changes that lead to exceptional results; whether these results are to improve an individual's overall sense of well-being, a teams ability to be innovative, collaborative, self-organizing and self-directing, or an organizations ability to truly live their values throughout every uphill battle and downhill celebration. The road for Emotional Intelligence can being with the EQi-2.0 assessment; providing the baseline markers for one’s current EQ skill set. Development of EQ is done in many ways including: 1:1 Coaching, lEQdership – Leadership Development through Emotional Intelligence Program, Webinars, Speaking Engagements, Team coaching, and consultation. Listen to TNT ESQ podcast with co-host Rhys Thomas on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Anchor, and more.

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