Join Jeff Weiner for an in-depth discussion in this video Effectively communicating: Transparency, part of On Leadership by Jeff Weiner.
- Let's talk about transparency, and as a company we have this value, open, honest and constructive. And we heard earlier about the importance of honesty, and my guess is a lot of you feel the same way. With regard to transparency and we've had this as a open, honest, constructive as a value since I joined the company, in part because of some experiences I had prior to joining LinkedIn. Not only directly, but also being a student and an observer of other companies, and the way other companies were built, and their values, and the way they communicated. And what I have come to learn is there is a virtuous cycle to transparency, and there is a very vicious cycle that comes with obfuscation, holding back when you're in a position to lead others. So, let's start with the vicious cycle, actually. If you work within an organization and the leaders of that organization are holding back on sharing some of the most important information to the company and to the team, it's going to be very hard for the company and the team to feel like that information is theirs. If it was theirs, you'd be providing access to it, but you're holding onto it. And maybe with the right intention, you're worried about something, leaks or so forth and so on, or it's inappropriate, I get that, but if that becomes your starting point and you're always thinking first, "We shouldn't share this." What's going to happen when people actually get access to that information that you're keeping from them and they don't feel like it's theirs? Well, it's going to spread. Lose trust. And that's where you get leaks. And what happens to that management that was really concerned about sharing too much information when you get a leak? More measures to prevent the leak from happening, so you get this very, very vicious cycle. You demoralize people, they get angry, executive management wants to share even less information, now people in the trenches don't know exactly what's going on when they need to know what's going on, and round and round it goes. Trust erodes, demoralization happens. Okay, now let's talk about the exact opposite, when you are being transparent in all the right ways, and you are sharing information and even getting out of your comfort zone a little bit. What happens? Well, those same people in the first anecdote who feel like the information's not theirs, when you're sharing they feel like it is theirs, they feel like they're a part of your team, a part of the team. They feel like they're being trusted, they're being treated like adults, not being treated like kids who can't handle it. And if that information's theirs, what are they going to do when they get access to it? They're going to protect it! Of course they're going to protect it, it's theirs! Why would they want to do any harm to what's theirs? Not only that, when you're able to share what's working within an organization transparently, you can all build on those best practices, and share them, the best practices, and get better together! And more importantly, when it's not working, which is when most people and most leaders would be most disinclined to share the information and be transparent because they don't want to show the vulnerability, they don't want to show anything's wrong, that they've made any mistakes, the company's doin' anything wrong. But when you can share with the entire team what's not working, what's more likely to happen? They help you fix it. Of course! You want your best and brightest all in on the same problem. You want that person in that faraway corner to raise their hand and say, "I experienced something like that two companies ago! "Here's how we got through it." Or they say, "Have you considered A?" And then someone else in the organization who hears the same information says, "Ah, I hadn't thought of A, did you think of B?" Oh my god, we got A, we got B, let's combine those, we got C, we got an answer. All that goodness starts to accrue when people are able to share this information in a trusted environment. So, there's a very virtuous cycle to this kind of transparency, a very vicious cycle to obfuscation. And we have opted for as much transparency as we can, where it makes sense. Now, does that mean you're going to share everything with everyone at all times as leaders? No. No. There are going to be times when that doesn't make sense. And as a leader, that's a big part of your job is to figure out when it's appropriate, what you're going to share, and how you're going to share it, okay? But figure out which of these cycles you want to create for your teams and your organization as a first principle.
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