The Art of Leading, Coaching, & Influencing Others™: Transparency & Opaqueness
Transparency – the quality or state of being free from pretense or deceit.
Opaqueness – attempt to block, making something hard to understand or see.
Much can be said about these topics because they touch every aspect of our lives. Whether it is politics, the news media, your partner/spouse, or yourself, every area of our lives are impacted in either a positive or negative way based on the choice we make to be transparent or to be opaque.
As a leader, if I intentionally and purposely set out to deceive you or block you from seeing the truth (the facts), then I am attempting to manipulate you. Being opaque is simply an attempt to make things appear to be something other than what they are and is usually being driven by a self-centered agenda. It might be driven by a desire to:
- Maintain control
- Manipulate or deceive another party in an attempt to benefits themselves (usually at the cost of the other party).
- Hide their missteps or indiscretion’s.
- Make something appear to be something other than what it is (facts versus fiction).
- Hide their selves so their true motives are hidden.
I remember being in a relationship with someone who thought that leaving out some of the facts (lying by omission) was “okay.” According to them they didn’t lie … they just were protecting me?
The Truth: I never asked to be protected, I never asked to be lied to, in fact I made it crystal clear that I wanted the truth. Apparently they felt like Jack Nicholson in the movie, A Few Good Men, when Nicholson screams back at the attorney played by Tom Cruise “You can’t handle the truth!”
Which raises the question: When did you get to decide for me what I can and can’t handle? When did you get to decide whether I should hear or see the truth. Part of the problem with folks today is that they have been shielded from the truth. Truth’s like:
- In life there are winners and losers and losing sucks. Pretending everyone wins is a lie.
- He who yells the loudest and points the biggest finger usually has more to hide than the person they are accusing. Screaming and yelling is just a diversion away from themselves. Think about that next time you watch the news or a politician condemning the other party. Oh, I’m sorry they’re protecting the “American People!”
- Nothing is free, you end up paying for it one way or another and sometimes that ‘freebie’ will rob you of your sense of self-worth, value, and your sense of purpose.
- When you feel entitled to things you haven’t earned, you stay stuck and dependent on others. Eventually this will rob you of your self-worth, value, and sense of purpose. You can scream about it (see point #2) or just remember that you’re holding the gun!
- There are consequences for each and every action that you take or don’t take. It is the Universal Law of Compensation … you cannot outsmart, outrun, or outmaneuver it!
- Karma is a bitch.
So that said can we just call all the opaqueness, spinning, shaping, omission for what it is … LYING!
As a leader it is not your job to decide for others what they can handle. I understand the need for discretion especially in a leadership position with knowledge that is not to be made public. I’m not talking about that situation. I’m talking about speaking the truth and being transparent so that people can decide for themselves what is their best course of action and not you deciding for them.
Opaqueness creates a false, egocentric mentality that you have the power to decide for others what is best for them. Opaqueness can contribute to low self-esteem and low self-worth because it creates a false sense of reality. Opaqueness depletes trust and people don’t follow leaders they don’t trust.
Transparency allows others to make the decision as to what is best for themselves and that is empowering. Feeling empowered builds self-worth and value and reduces that sense of helplessness and victim-hood. Transparency, even though it is hard at times, creates vulnerability and vulnerability creates trust. People follow leaders they trust.
As a leader each and everyday you have the opportunity to choose to be opaque or transparent.
Part of being a great leader is trusting that your people are capable of making their own decisions and creating their own solutions to their problems and challenges. You can’t do that by shrouding the truth, reality, or being so self-centered that you believe you’re more important then your people.