Creative LeadershipEngaging Culture

My Goal: More Transparent Leaders. Are You One?

Right now my goal is to encourage leaders to become more transparent – meaning, stop trying to hide.  I’ve said many times that in the digital age, Google is less about “search” than “reputation management.” In an online, instant information world, it’s virtually impossible to hide anything. The drunk driving arrest in college, the bankruptcy, or your missed child support payments, will all likely surface in an online search. Leaders from church, business, and government continue to be brought low as a result of unexpected documents or photographs that come up online.

I visited one pastor who pulled me aside and said, “It would be better if you didn’t mention my yacht to any of my church members.  I don’t think they’d understand.”  I told him he was living in the stone age, since it would only take a reasonably intelligent high school kid on “Google Earth” about 10 minutes to not only find out about the yacht, but have a satellite photo of the boat sitting at the dock.

It’s important to note that it’s not just about being caught, it’s about doing the right thing. Al Johnson, writing over at the Brazen Careerist, created a great list of differences between a transparent leader and a non-transparent leader. As we move forward, let’s see where we stand:

A transparent leader says what’s on their mind,
A non-transparent leader says what others want to hear.

A transparent leader is consistent in their actions and reactions,
A non-transparent leader is inconsistent in their actions and reactions.

A transparent leader is honest and admits when they need help,
A non-transparent leader attempts to cover up flaws or the need for help.

A transparent leader supports bold claims with bold supporting action,
A non-transparent leader says one thing and then turns around and does another.

A transparent leader is honest and openly communicates,
A non-transparent leader will lie and withhold information that should be shared.

Based on the five examples above, are you a transparent leader?


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  1. Thanks for the challenge. I think it is difficult to be transparent. Transparency often equals vulnerablity. I think we need to be willing to be exposed and vulnerable even when it is uncomfortable.

    I will join you in this goal in 2010.

  2. What does it say about Christian Ministries who have to be told to be transparent because it’s necessary now for Public Image management?

    Whatever happened to leading by example because something is morally right and to live as if everything said in private will be shouted from the roof tops whether it is or not?

  3.  Transparent?  The church has become less of a community that knows and loves each other’s warts and helps each other through them, to a collection of people wearing masks and acting like we all have it together.

    Yes, we see it in leaders, but also in the pews.

    And because that is how we are in the pews, we demand our leaders to become our own view of “perfect”.

    If there is something I am looking for in 2010 it is friends that will allow me to be transparent, call me on my issues and help me work through them–like the Church is supposed to do– And still love me.


    (Thank you, John Lynch and the TrueFaced gag)

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