Leadership | Entries from November 2014

Why Transparency is a Must-Have for Today's Leaders

Why Transparency is a Must-Have for Today's LeadersWhat kind of leader do you want to be? Is it someone with an aura - mysterious and revered, yet distant and disconnected from your employees? Or is it someone respected and trusted, but intimately known by everyone at your company?

This latter, transparent approach is a must-have for today’s leaders. Some of the biggest and brightest figureheads are considered “transparent,” but the path to becoming this type of professional is complicated.

Even so, here is why transparency is key for the leaders in your organization:

Transparency Will Bring Your Team Together

Put yourself in the shoes of your employees. Would you want to be led by a person who is hard to reach and detached? In all likelihood, you wouldn’t feel very connected to this leader, which would make it harder to follow him or her, and feel satisfied in your job.

In an article for the Harvard Business Review, Dorie Clark argues that this is one reason why transparency is a must for leaders. Without transparency, it is much more challenging for employees to know their superiors, let alone like them and understand their points of view. This will make loyalty harder to achieve, and a lack of real relationships can negatively impact other areas of the business as well, from employee motivation and production to customer service.

Transparency Can Protect your Business

Transparency is a critical aspect of transformative leadership. Some organizations lead through a veil, using vagueness as a way to mitigate risk and ensure that outside problems have minimal effects on operations.

A similar end result can be achieved via transparency, but with additional benefits. Clark cites Paul Levy, the former CEO of Boston-based Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital, as an example. Levy used a personal blog to connect with his employees, colleagues, patients and their families. On the site, he wrote about the inner workings of the hospital, his personal life and the things that made him tick. As he garnered a following, the respect people had for him and his organization increased.

That made a big difference when a relationship Levy had with an employee became public knowledge. The damage to his reputation and the hospital was muted thanks to the transparent approach he had taken during his nine-year tenure.

Transparent Leaders are Alive and Well

Transparency can be difficult for today’s leaders. It requires openness, effective communication skills, and confidence. Even with the challenges, there are many premier leaders using transparency to excel.

In an article for Forbes, contributor John Hall outlines several leaders who embrace the idea of transparency. Here are three leaders that set positive examples in their professions:

  1. Tony Hsieh - Zappos
    Online retailer Zappos is a model of transparency, thanks to leader Tony Hsieh. He has been known to share employee communications on social media. For example, Hsieh tweeted out emails about facility operations, pulling back the curtain for customers to get a closer look at how Zappos works.

  2. Andy Levine - Development Counselors
    Development Counsellors’ Andy Levine got creative with transparency. The organization created a way to share its financial outlook with every employee. Called “The Game,” this platform declares a “win” once a certain profit is achieved, and then portions of those earnings are shared with each worker.

  3. Rand Fishkin - SEOmoz
    Rand Fishkin, of SEOmoz, uses transparency as a way to connect with customers and employees. He will gladly post his own performance review for all to see, plus he will even share funding decks with the public. Overall, Fishkin’s strategy is to let people see the ups and downs of the company, no matter what.

These are but three of the most transparent leaders today. This approach may not feel right for everybody, but it is important to use transparency as a strategy to build trust, improve communication and stand apart from the crowd.

How Social Media Can Be Leveraged for Effective Training

Social Media: How Networking can Improve On-the-Job LearningA growing trend in today’s learning industry is the concept of “social learning,” or the idea that effective learning can take place in a more communal, collaborative environment. What better way to achieve that other than using internal social networking programs?

Couple the idea of social learning with CLOs’ appreciation of new technology and trends, and it is easy to see why the growth of social media will directly impact employee education, effective communication skills and the learning industry as a whole.

Networking Can Complete the Picture

In an article for Chief Learning Officer magazine, Susan Distasio and Donna Lord posited that enterprise social networking (ESN) holds great opportunities for employee learning, because these websites serve as a complete learning portal.

For example, since much of the on-the-job learning process takes place in an informal setting, the relaxed nature of social media is a complementary addition. It’s also valuable for training that occurs in a group setting, because employees can share ideas, ask questions, and offer feedback via ESN at a later time.

Best of all, CLOs and their organizations can tune into these online conversations and gain knowledge of the educational experience. Leveraging this data will help develop more efficient, effective training methods in the future.

Networking Can Lead to ROI

While there are plenty of benefits to social networking - especially from a learning perspective - CLOs must be aware of the potential pitfalls as well.

In a separate article for CLO magazine, Distasio and Lord explained that the rise of networking means dealing with the risks. Organizations must take a new approach to ensure employees are safe online while receiving the benefits of this strategy. That can be achieved via employer-to-worker communication, technology training, and planning.

For starters, employers need to discuss the implementation of ESN closely with their staff members. This will help facilitate the rollout of new programs and prevent problems from forming. Social networking will also be approached differently depending on the department. How sales use these resources will be unique compared to marketing, for example. Outline each strategy and communicate that with each team.

Above all else, remember the value of enterprise social networks - you can provide employees a hands-on learning solution all while addressing your corporate confidentiality and privacy needs.