What Does It Mean to Be a Transparent Leader?

A young Black woman leads her team in a project meeting


INTOO Staff Writer


There’s no doubt that most employees want transparency from their manager or supervisor. Becoming a transparent leader means creating a workplace that champions open and honest communication from all stakeholders. You must be comfortable with sharing critical information with your team members and allowing them to give feedback and ask questions.

Though being open and showing vulnerability can seem daunting, it can positively affect your employees by ensuring that they feel trusted, included, and confident that they have what they need to do well at work. Although it may not be the easiest task, you can rest assured that becoming a transparent leader will be well worth it in the end.

Why Should You Lead With Transparency in the Workplace?

Being transparent is the right thing to do as a leader. It is also vital to building a positive workplace culture that will last. Transparency not only communicates that you truly trust and value your employees, but it also has the power to increase productivity, efficiency, morale, well-being, and employee performance throughout the entire organization.

The next section will outline four concrete ways to transform a business for the better by building a culture of transparency. The following section will introduce five critical strategies for practicing transparent leadership. 

4 Reasons Transparent Leadership Can Improve a Business

Transparent leadership has benefits for both individual employees and the company as a whole.

1. Communicating value

Employees want to know that you care about them beyond what they can do for you or the business. When you are honest with your employees and allow them to be honest with you, it communicates that you value and respect them as human beings and for their contributions to the business. 

Creating a culture of transparency in your business shows that you care about each employee’s overall well-being and their ability to make well-informed decisions for their personal and professional lives.

2. Improving performance

Not only does transparent leadership help you create a healthy team culture, but it also improves employee performance. Sharing critical information about how well employees are progressing toward goals, what improvements are needed to meet expectations, how the company is performing and where it is headed empowers your employees. 

When your employees fully understand the path ahead, it’s easier for them to rise to the occasion and help the company fulfill its strategic mission.

A female leader reviews her expectations in a project meeting with her diverse team3. Increasing efficiency

When leaders are not open and honest, it leaves employees to make assumptions about what they should be doing. As a result, if employees are headed down a divergent path, additional time and effort must be spent to get them back on the right track. 

Unfortunately, these scenarios can negatively impact productivity and efficiency across the business. Transparent leadership and honest communication prevent misunderstandings and allow employees to get right to work on the things that matter.

4. Solidifying trust

Transparency in leadership builds a culture of trust in the organization. When you are honest with employees, it communicates that you feel you can trust them with the information you are sharing. 

Trusted employees feel a greater sense of self-worth, are more confident in their work, and have an increased sense of peace and security in the workplace. All of these positive feelings are highly essential for improving employee well-being and increased morale among your team members.

5 Ways to Become a Transparent Leader

Practicing transparency isn’t always easy, but it is doable. Here are five steps you can take to be a more transparent leader.

A Black male leader listens to feedback from his team.1. Relate and empathize

It’s important for employees to work with leaders and managers they can relate to. Your employees want to know that you can empathize with them and care about not only their professional lives but their personal lives as well. 

Share your own experiences to help employees become more comfortable with communicating their own needs and concerns. Make an effort to get to know them personally by having one on one meetings regularly to show them you truly care.

2. Lead with accountability

If you want employees to act accountable, you need to set the right example. Help them understand what is expected of you as a leader and how you intend to fulfill those requirements with their contributions. Be transparent with employees about your expectations. When employees know what you require, they can hold themselves accountable for getting the job done.

You must also allow your employees to hold each other accountable. Fostering a culture of collaboration means each employee is dependent on others, and to work, all parties must be transparent about what they need to be successful.

3. Communicate your “why”

Being transparent means sharing the reasons behind the decisions you make so that your employees don’t deem them unrealistic or unnecessary. 

For example, giving an employee a long list of expectations for a project can make them feel that you are being unreasonable about the amount of work you expect. Help your employee to understand how their contributions will help the project be successful for team and the organization as a whole. Let them know that their work is appreciated. When your employee knows their hard work will be recognized and valued, they’ll be more receptive to the additional work.

4. Value honest feedback

A culture of transparency leads to open communication and feedback. However, this feedback should not only work one way. Your employees should be able to be honest with you about their frustrations and concerns in the work environment, especially during times of transition. 

Keeping an open-door policy with your employees helps them feel consistently heard. This, in turn, can help to reduce employee turnover, increase morale across the organization, and foster better collaboration between employees and management teams.

5. Honor your commitments

Transparent leaders should never be afraid to make commitments to their team about the direction of the company and the role they intend to play in pushing the business toward its strategic mission. 

You must also ensure that you consistently follow through on your commitments and that your employees have permission to hold you accountable if you fail to do so. This type of relationship with employees builds trust and strengthens the work environment. 

Learn to Lead With Transparency

Why is transparency important in leadership? Your ability to achieve your strategic mission depends on it. This management style fosters a culture of value and trust, which further increases employee engagement and performance. To find out how INTOO can help your business improve its corporate culture, get in touch with our team today.

INTOO Staff Writer

INTOO staff writers come from diverse backgrounds and have extensive experience writing about topics that matter to the HR and business communities, including outplacement, layoffs, career development, internal mobility, candidate experience, succession planning, talent acquisition, and more.

Learn how to effectively build and transition your workforce.

Latest Posts

Vacation Accrual: Everything You Need to Know
Vacation Accrual: Everything You Need to Know

Keeping your employees happy and motivated is key to any successful business. One crucial element in achieving this is a well-defined paid time off (PTO) policy. Many companies use a vacation accrual method to determine how much PTO an employee earns. This system...

How to Create an Impactful Mid-Year Performance Review
How to Create an Impactful Mid-Year Performance Review

Let's be honest—annual performance reviews can feel like a dreaded chore for both managers and employees. By the time the review rolls around, issues may have festered for months without any real feedback or course correction. Not exactly an inspiring or productive...

25 Outdoor Team-Building Activities & Games
25 Outdoor Team-Building Activities & Games

Keeping employees engaged and thriving requires more than just good pay——it necessitates fostering a vibrant team culture year-round. That's where outdoor team-building activities come in. These activities take your team out of the daily office routine and into a...

​​Insourcing Vs. Outsourcing: Comparing the Two
​​Insourcing Vs. Outsourcing: Comparing the Two

Insourcing and outsourcing are two distinct strategies that businesses can adopt to manage their operations and resources. The choice between these two approaches, a decision that rests on the shoulders of managers and business leaders, has significant implications...

The Servant Leadership Style Explained
The Servant Leadership Style Explained

Servant leadership is a philosophy that redefines traditional hierarchical models of leadership, emphasizing relationships and reciprocity. Here, instead of people serving the leader, the leader exists to serve its people. To understand servant leadership, let’s...

How to Identify and Address Employee Disengagement 
How to Identify and Address Employee Disengagement 

Let's address the stark reality: employee engagement in the U.S. is on a continuous decline, hitting its lowest point in over a decade.  A recent Gallup report found that the decline was particularly pronounced among remote, hybrid, and younger workers.  According to...

Coaching Strategies for Leaders & Managers
Coaching Strategies for Leaders & Managers

The root of every successful business is its people and the knowledge they bring to the table. Leaders and managers who become coaches for their teams help them grow, adding value to the organization and empowering employees to step into their career potential. While...

Career Wellness Is More Important Than Ever
Career Wellness Is More Important Than Ever

Wellness topics such as stress management, financial wellbeing, physical health, and others as they relate to work life have come into focus. Both employees and the unemployed are familiar with the frequent struggles to balance priorities, find time for what’s...

Signs of a Toxic Work Environment
Signs of a Toxic Work Environment

Have you noticed that some employees seem constantly on edge, miss project deadlines, are increasingly absent, or lack initiative and engagement? These behaviors could be signs of a toxic work environment. As an employer, ignoring these red flags can have serious...

Subscribe to our newsletter!

Learn about career solutions and trends that matter to the HR community.