Leading Change: We Need More Transparency

When you are leading your business team through complex change, your team’s success will to a large extent depend on the level of transparency you are able to establish. The power of transparency is often underestimated. The true meaning of transparency is often misunderstood. Therefore: some experience-based thoughts about transparency, and how to stimulate it in your team.

Transparency accelerates teamwork

Why? Because it creates trust! In our current VUCA business environment this is becoming increasingly important.

The more transparent we are to ourselves and to others, the better we understand what we want to achieve as a team. Teams who experience transparency generate a stronger mutual focus, as well as a higher level of mutual trust.

Teams who experience transparency generate a stronger mutual focus, as well as a higher level of mutual trust.

Transparency starts with you

Creating an atmosphere of transparency starts with you being transparent yourself. Transparent about your intentions, about who you are, about how you work, what you value in life and believe to be important. Transparency about your habits, about your qualities, and your weak points.

Transparency has a lot to do with being open, honest, and authentic. Especially when you are working with people with different cultural backgrounds and nationalities, your transparency will help your team to develop trust despite the cultural differences.


Transparency does not mean you always have to know the answers. When you don’t know the exact end result yet, just say so, and focus your team on what needs to be done to move forward and to find the answers together.

Read more here about how to be transparent yourself.

Not being open to others because you do not have all the answers yet often has a counterproductive effect. It will undermine trust.

Listening creates transparency

No, this is not an obvious statement. Letting other people speak is not creating transparency by itself. It is the way we listen that makes the difference. Listen to learn! Listen between the lines, to what is unsaid. When people feel you are really listening and tapping into what they feel, believe, and think they will become more open and share more.

When you are willing not only to hear them out, but also to learn from them, to change your own way of looking at things, then transparency starts to grow.

Read more here about how to stimulate transparency, especially when working with Asian team members.

Transparency is about clarity, not about micro-management

Transparency is also about being clear about what you expect from other team members. This is not the same as telling them in detail what they must do. Trying to create transparency by micro-managing people will result in a lack of motivation, in complacency, and eventually in a lack of transparency.

Instead, stimulate transparency by keeping the focus on the desired end-result. Here is a question that works well in my experience: "How do you think this can contribute to achieving our end-result?"

You stimulate transparency by making people aware of the bigger picture, and of their contributions. True teamwork originates when team members take ownership for the end-result, see beyond their own tasks, and see how their work impacts others.

Related article: How to Stimulate People to Think Impact.

What are your thoughts about transparency? I’d love to read your comments below!

Are you leading global change programs? Find more detailed tips and insights on how to create openness here:

Leading cross-cultural teams: how to create openness – part 1

Leading cross-cultural teams: how to create openness – part 2

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