Wednesday, October 31, 2012

I Can't See Any Transparent Leaders

Ah, transparency. An already old and tired buzzword that has fallen out of favor. It's so 3rd quarter of 2012! Who uses that term anymore? Some companies I'm aware of still embrace transparency as part of their honor, integrity, and yes...use it as a buzzword to justify fees and other expenses. These costs are okay because we didn't try to hide them! We're transparent!


Buzzwords Start For A Reason
I look at catch phrases or terms, like transparency, from a different perspective. The reason this term suddenly became so popular (IMHO) is that the chaos of the recession forced companies to scramble and appear as if they were (no longer) hiding anything from customers. Their emphasis on this theme and subsequent actions to convince their clients, investors and employees that they were in fact being open and honest, helped turn this terrific word into somewhat of a joke.

That's a shame.

Forget the Buzz...Make It Part of Your Leadership DNA
In leadership, the term applies to many areas ranging from how much information is shared with your employees, to how you behave with your colleagues.

I happen to love this term, not because it suddenly was the trendy thing to say (for about 30 minutes); but because of what it represents when you peel away the negative spin.

Be open. Be honest. Share what you can as soon as possible. Involve your team toward reaching a goal, or target, or mandate, or change, or whatever it is that needs to happen.

That's good stuff.

How About You
What buzzword bandwagon have you jumped on lately? Are you worried about staying current with the industry lingo; or, have you decided that you're going to use words that matter. Doing something that matters, to me, is far more important than sounding like you know some sort of special way to create synergy in your organization anyway.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

photo credit


  1. Hi Jay,
    "Brand Citizenship" and although a lot of people maybe playing lip service, as in transparency, it will be vital for companies to succeed.

    Customers and employees are now asking questions of organisations, including: what are you contributing to society, are you a good citizen?

    As with transparency organisation will have to walk the walk here too, you can not say we invest in local markets and hope that no one finds out about your tax avoidance. (Apple and Vodafone come to mind)

    We are now in a supply economy where buyers / talent have a choice of who they follow and buy from. This is why organisations and leaders will have to be honest about who they really are, what they are creating and how they will behave.

    Brands are communities, no longer things we sell, so the better a citizen you are the bigger your community.

    Ed Weatherall

    1. Thanks Edward. You make some great points that all speak to what transparency actually means for the corporation. "Brands are communities..." love it!

  2. Jay - great post! Funny, I blogged about something similar last week as it relates to business ethics:


    Transparency definitely is the backbone of ethical business behaviour. The other upside to it is that increases employee engagement. Employees can better understand and accept organizational actions (both positive and negative) if they are communicated with and broader rational made apparent.

  3. My buzzword is 'employee engagement'. Is that permitted, as it's two words? :-)
    I am in the very fortunate position of having been an engaged employee a long time ago, before the phrase was coined. I know that I was at my most productive during the peiod in the 1990's where I was most engaged with what I was doing. I find it very difficult to believe that anyone would deliberately run a business with a dis-engaged workforce, but they do. I know, because I have been there too, with the same company, who failed to keep the employee's fire burning.

    1. Thanks Graham. You've seen both sides of the engagement have's so much better when the leadership is focused on the culture v. only their own self-interests.