When organizations talk about trust, a paragraph on communication tends to follow. Basing trust on a team’s communication pattern alone can lead to dysfunction and lack of uniformity; as well as cause wavering goals and no agreed upon course of action to meet them. Communication is an abstract concept with the ability to lead people down many different avenues including porous boundaries and personality conflicts.

The most fundamental and efficient way to build trusting work relationships within an organization happens when attention is put on the meaning of, as well as have the tools to apply, the key components of transparency. Transparency is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as the quality of something that allows you to see what it stands for.

While communication is broad and abstract covering everything from what is articulated - to what is heard and processed; transparency is all about what is appropriate to share, and when it needs to be shared for the benefit of the team as a whole.


Transparency doesn’t mean sharing every detail. It means providing context for the decisions we’re making.
— Simon Sinek

Transparency is not meant to be a ‘need to’, it’s about a ‘want to’. It is not to partake in out of obligation; it is meant to be appropriately formative. Basecamp, a company known for leading a healthy and fun workplace environment, is said to be grounded in utilizing a transparency approach to keep everyone in the loop so each person knows where they stand in team based decisions.

There is a lot of literature to support the importance of businesses being transparent with their customers; yet it is not only the customers who will benefit from honesty within transparency, colleagues within a team will as well. When challenges come to the forefront, transparency needs to be the default button and followed by feedback and reflection for self growth.

Transparency has the capability to completely transform a situation to lead to stronger employee engagement. After all what one doesn’t know nor understand one can not align nor grow with. Consider the following equation: Transparency leads to trust: Trust is needed for genuine commitment: Commitment gives rise to engagement: Engagement enhances motivation, creativity, ideation, and fulfillment; as well as a thriving team who have created their own safe environment to grow together.


Transparency, honesty, kindness, good stewardship, even humor, work in businesses at all times.
— John Gerzema

Transparency gives rise to the emotional commitment essential to building genuine trust within a team. Without transparency, an employee may still be able to commit to the job, but not the team. Without transparency informed decisions will never happen as there is no connection to the greater purpose of the team.

Honesty can be sewn into transparency where there is a psychologically safe environment where team members can, as Brene Brown puts it, dare greatly and give rise to uncomfortable conversations where accountability is sought, feedback is rendered, and a plan to move forward is made. When a message is conveyed with the needs of the full team in mind, that’s impactful.

Team members are more apt to have their colleagues remember what is said and receive the support sought after when it is conveyed in a manner consistent with being considerate and sincere, a willingness to cooperate and collaborate, and have accountability for own actions.


Integrity and Transparency have to be part of the culture. They have to be thought of as fundamental values.
— Angel Gurria

What does it take to have transparency at work? All team members must honour it. One sided communication is not effective, neither is one sided transparency. Team members must have the insight to see value in sharing to learn and grow together. A team can only thrive as far as their transparency is alive.

Transparency with mistakes and failure will lead to healthy engagement and problem solving. Communication patterns that blame or minimize mistakes and failures will lead to disengagement and the team becoming stuck. Self accountability is key to developing transparency and consists of self reflection, recognition and new insight. Anyone who isn’t reflecting on their own actions and behaviors can never be truly honest with themselves because without self-reflection, the mind can only process what is happening in the moment and what is heard to be true.

Self reflection will help breakdown any emotional armour that limits transparency. This enhances honesty and self accountability. Asking yourself the following tough questions will help get you there. Take time to reflect on your actions in regards to how you share information.

Ask Yourself:

  1. What is going well?

  2. What is not going well?

  3. What needs to change?

  4. How can you make this happen?

  5. What is the next step?

  6. What is the action that you need to take to get to that step?

  7. What is the most positive outcome of this action?

  8. What is the most negative outcome of this action?

  9. How will this benefit the growth of your team?

    Only you can decide when to dare greatly.

Additional insights:

Transparency Can Make Life and Business Much Easier for Entrepreneurs:
The less you try to hide the less energy you waste trying to hide it.

https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/321284

https://theminimalistcreative.net/blog/vulnerability-authenticity-and-transparency-what-do-these-words-actually-mean

https://blog.smarp.com/3-reasons-why-you-need-transparency-for-employee-engagement

https://daretolead.brenebrown.com/

https://brenebrown.com/downloads/

 
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