Transparency and Leadership

by  Mike Henry  |  Change Management

A recent book by a new friend got me thinking about transparency and leadership.  The book is Business at the Speed of NOW by John M. Bernard.  John’s an Instigator here at Lead Change.  We met through social media and we’ve spoken a few times about how the Internet and a number of other issues are forcing business to change rapidly and drastically.

Business at the Speed of NOW: Fire Up Your People, Thrill Your Customers and Crush Your Competitors is a thoughtful book based on a number of practical, real-life experiences John and his organization have taken businesses and clients through.  We’re witnessing a transition to a mass-customization economy where businesses that accept constraints and fail to embrace change will become fossils – case studies of life from a different era.

John talks about “Then” vs. “NOW” businesses and puts together 12 chapter process to help your organization navigate and succeed in the Now economy.  Chapters like Thriving in the Now and Making the Shift to NOW get you started and others like Solving Problems NOW and Enabling the NOW Workforce provide practical steps in the process as well.

One chapter that particularly resonated with me is titled Creating NOW Transparency.  The author talks about how the NOW workforce and the NOW economy creates different problems for today’s organizations.  As a result, transparency is more important than ever.

7 Rules for Total Transparency

He goes on to list 7 Rules for Total Transparency.

  1. Seek facts not blame.
  2. Ask for and offer help.
  3. Speak the truth, respectfully.
  4. Think organizationally, act departmentally.
  5. Engage fully.
  6. Laugh and play.
  7. Share leadership.

All of these are important to creating a transparent organization that has the courage to see, face and overcome its problems.  All are important in building an organization that brings more than just money to its people and its customers.  Transparency enables sincerity and trust. Trust is the lubricant that enables organizations to function, grow and prosper. Trust enables success.  Lack of transparency causes doubt, introduces fear and destroys trust.

Sharing Leadership is probably the most often overlooked in the list above.  Key to transparency is giving others in the organization the information and the ability to influence by offering ideas and demonstrating responsibility.  “Everyone in the organization should take accountability for modeling the ground rules, regardless of who actually chairs a meeting or runs a department or owns a process.”  This idea fully aligns with a core principle of the Lead Change Group; leadership comes from within, from your character or who you are.  A transparent organization is one that encourages distributed character-based leadership rather than a narrow, positional leadership model.

NOW is the time to free your organization of Then thinking.  If you’re a business owner or leader, you can create the change in your organization or it will happen to you.  Are you ready for the challenge?  Then check out Business at the Speed of NOW.

About The Author

Articles By mike-henry
Chief Instigator (Founder) of Lead Change Group and VP of IT for a mid sized technology company. Passionate about character-based leadership and making a positive difference.  »  View Profile

What People Are Saying

Page Cole  |  16 Mar 2012  |  Reply

Just bought the book, looks fantastic! From your reading of the book, would it be something good for staff to read through with me and discuss, or is it more for the leader of the organization? Thanks for the heads up!

Mike Henry  |  16 Mar 2012  |  Reply

In my opinion, the book is clearly for executive leaders and those that want to be. It’s written clearly from the point of view of organizational leadership. There are particular areas and ideas he shares that will benefit sharing with your team as written and others that need to be processed and implemented from the top down.

Also, you can connect with John through this site or Twitter or LinkedIn too!

John Bernard  |  20 Mar 2012  |  Reply


While the book is written for executives, it is being read today at all levels of organizations where the concepts are being implemented. Standard fare for us with clients it to have the second-tier of leaders do a 12-week study (one-hour per week) of the book as the leadership team does its work.

Study groups have become so popular we have created a Study Guide with chapter summaries and questions to guide and stimulate the dialogue.

I was visiting a client yesterday where front-line supervisors are reading the book and presentings its core ideas to all of their employees.

John (

Seth Resler  |  16 Mar 2012  |  Reply


Thanks for the book recommendation – I can’t wait to check it out. I think transparency is more important than ever because social media has enable people to communicate and organize horizontally across an organization far more easily than ever before. This means that actions are far easier to spread and be seen by all. We saw it just this week with the manager that quit Goldman Sachs and wrote about his reasons in the NY Times, which then spread around the internet. It’s like the old saying, “Always tell the truth so you don’t have to remember what you said.” I agree that transparency is vitally important, and it’s one of the issues in leadership development and social media that I write about on my blog:

Thanks again!

Seth Resler
The Polylogue

Mike Henry  |  16 Mar 2012  |  Reply

Thanks for the great comment Seth. Transparency jumped out at me from the pages of the book, like the idea of shared leadership. Transparency helps build trust and trust lubricates relationships and organizations (and communities). I think it’s always been important but the Internet has made it much more urgent since the world can know something faster NOW than ever before. Waiting for something to get out is the same as trying to hide it. Neither helps very much. Thanks again. Mike…

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