Transparency in Leadership: Finding the Balance

Last week we looked at a challenging leadership topic: transparency. In recent years there has been a significant trend toward greater transparency. Technology is a vital component of this trend, as huge amounts of information are exhibited to the waiting public each week.


Recently, there have been countless scandals in the news concerning secrecy and the need for transparency. We are also seeing the public’s increasing desire for transparency as we watch the reactions to the current presidential campaign.


We are all living during a time when people want and expect their leaders to be more human, less perfect and at times a bit vulnerable—regardless of hierarchy or rank.”

– Glenn Llopis, Forbes Contributor


Transparency is not just desired on a personal level, but is increasingly demanded in the corporate world. It is interesting to consider what this trend will mean for prevailing leadership. Organizational success rests on the leadership’s ability to find the necessary balance of transparency.


How do you find this balance? The choice of transparency lies directly with leadership. In a recent article, Kevin Eikenberry shares a few practical tips for transparency in leadership decisions:


  • Share as much information as you can, as soon as you can.” – Make sure you continually involve your organization by sharing information with them.
  • Err on the side of sharing.” – If the decision to share is unclear, always lean more toward transparency, and then work your way back until you make a decision to share or not.
  • Encourage questions, and answer them.” – Be willing to answer questions. By doing this you show your team you value greater transparency.
  • Show people what you see.” – Your viewpoint is different from your employees. They may not see the bigger picture, and it is your job to show them.
  • Timing matters” – Occasionally, there are things you will not be able to share. There is an appropriate time for everything.


A leader must continually decide what is best to divulge personally, professionally, and organizationally. Eikenberry goes on to describe 4 practical tips to becoming a transparent leader:


  • “Be consistent”
  • “Lead from your values”
  • “Share more about yourself”
  • “Be real”


The more you strive to fulfill these 4 tips, the easier it will be to find that balance and be appropriately transparent in your decision making.



Question: How do you make these difficult choices? Do you believe balance is necessary, or do you tend to lean more in one direction?



Copyright © 2015 by Dan Nielsen –

America’s Healthcare Leaders –

National Institute for Healthcare Leadership –

About the Author

Dan Nielsen
About Dan Nielsen Dan Nielsen is the author of the books Presidential Leadership (2013) and Be An Inspirational Leader (2016). He regularly writes and speaks on the topics of Leadership Excellence and Achieving Greater Success, and is available to deliver keynote presentations or facilitate discussions for your organization. For more info, please visit or email Dan at

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