*disclaimer: this post has nothing to do with leaders not wearing pants...and I'm not going to try and create some metaphor about how leaders put their pants on the same way employees do. In reality, I just really like this picture of my son chasing grasshoppers.
In 2015, "transparent leadership" will have a monumental impact on your bottom line. Let me repeat that. In 2015, "transparent leadership" will have a monumental impact on your bottom line.
Behind 'job security' & 'opportunities for advancement', 'truth and transparency' of senior management is at the top of surveyed employee needs. If you've administered an employee survey since the beginning of the recession, chances are this is #1, 2 or 3 on the list of employee concerns. It is leadership's role to give employees what they need.
But WHY? Don't our employees trust that we are looking out for their best interests? Don't our employees trust that we place their loyalty and respect above all else? Don't our employees recognize that we know employees are our best asset?
For better or worse, a consequence of the recession is employees now having a keen lookout for themselves. With the erosion of pensions, career-companies, and the new speed & depth of the news circuit, employees NEED MORE. Employees are looking for leaders to step out of the office, open up, be honest, join them on the front lines, and level with them about their organization.
Be More Human. Less Perfect.
Skip to 2:00 (if you're too important to watch the first 1:35 haha)
"Being Human" means accepting your faults as a leader and the faults of the organization when times are tough. It means standing up in front of your employees and telling them we missed our profit goals, or worse yet, lost a lot of money. It means accepting more than your share of the responsibility, but bringing those employees into the conversation.
Conversations build trust. Whether you have a failing marriage, spat with a friend, or you head a multinational corporation that lost a ton of money last quarter, communication brings it all back together.
Keys to Conversation (there's only one, it's simple)
1.) Leaders...talk and then listen, listen, listen.
Genuine conversation. Dialogue. In order for dialogue to occur there has to be more than one person speaking (don't stand on a stage when delivering ugly news, or even good news for that matter, and expect an employee to stand up and ask you something). Even in the best of cultures/work environments, employees often fear speaking up in public settings. Make sure you offer up various forms of communication (emailed in questions, typed-in webinar comments/questions, etc.)
Note: if you want more than one key, check out a great book called Crucial Conversations by Patterson
When leadership is able to "level with" employees about the condition of the company and that employee's role in the success of the company going forward (goal setting), you have a potential game-changer in performance. Employees are able to tie their business process/job function in with the overall profitability of the company. Working with individuals to develop goals with the big picture in mind increases that employees sense of worth. Employees feel like a valuable member of a team and their ownership of their role increases dramatically.
Transparency builds trust. Trust breeds innovation. Innovation drives performance.
Bringing it Home
OK. I know I said, twice, that transparent leadership will be key to your company's performance in 2015, and here is why. When you communicate on a human level you build trust, but more importantly you build engagement. Engaged employees have less absenteeism, turnover, shrinkage, safety incidents, quality defects and have higher customer ratings, productivity and ultimately profitability. In 2010-2011, Gallup found that organizations with an average of 9.3 engaged employees for every disengaged employee experienced 147% higher EPS than their competitors. Those with only 2.6 engaged employees for every disengaged employee experienced 2% lower EPS compared with their competition. Those are real numbers...and real $.
husband + father + pilot + Leadership Coach | Consultant + startup fan + reader of personal #development, company #culture & leadership books