Whilst I think Simplicity and Focus are fairly self explanatory, I am not sure if everyone fully understands what I mean when I talk about Transparency, and why I believe that this is so important.
When I talk about Transparency, what I am really talking about Truth and Knowledge.
The Truth about where we are and what our real performance is, and the Knowledge of what we need to do in order to be successful, and where we are on the journey towards our goals.
Without this Transparency, it’s impossible for us to be able to communicate our Vision, and the Plan to achieve it, to our teams, in order to inspire them.
Nor can we communicate the progress we have made towards our goal, which we can then use to motivate our teams to continue onwards, during the final stages to ensure success.
Whilst I was running a very large and very tough transformational program, which lasted about 2 years, when we were about 50% of the way through it, the motivation and belief of the team was flagging a little.
We were receiving a lot of criticism from the business, from some our colleagues, and it seemed that we would never see the light at the end of the tunnel.
At this time I remembered a quote from Churchill, “When you’re going though Hell, keep going!”, and that as leaders, one of our key jobs is not just to point the way; but to show people how far they have come; to show them how much they have already achieved; to praise them for that great effort; and then to inspire them to continue to push on through Hell and onwards towards success.
So I decided that I would have a meeting with the entire leadership team, both my direct reports and their direct reports, approximately 50 leaders, to look to re-motivate them.
Because I see Transparency as a key to success, we had plenty of metrics available to us, key performance indicators, which simply and clearly showed the progress we had made.
When I started the presentation, I highlighted right a the start how tough this was, and how, if we had to do it all again, I might choose to be a little less ambitious, and I apologised for my aggressive goal setting. With which the team fully agreed.
I continued with this tone as I went through the presentation, which was in line with the mood of the audience.
However, the presentation and the metrics I had put together showed a different story, they showed that although we were 50% of the way through the program, we had achieved 60% of the overall results, and our performance was higher than we had planned it to be at this stage.
This then allowed me to change my tone to be in line with what the figures were telling us, yes this is tough, but you know what, we’re ahead of schedule, our performance is higher had we had anticipated, we’re making great progress
You could feel the mood tangibly change in the room as we went through the details, which clearly showed we were being successful, that we were progressing, they could now see the light at the end of the tunnel and that it was now a lot nearer than they had previously believed.
The mood in the room now was one of pride, a sense of achievement, and a strong belief that we would be successful, and that we would exceed all of our goals.
I finished the presentation by telling them how proud I was of them; that they had taken on and had accepted extremely aggressive goals; that they had allowed me to really challenge them and push them outside their comfort zone; and yet here we were ahead of schedule and on the brink of major success.
The leadership team were now re-inpsired, and able to pass that message on to their team and motivate them to keep pushing on to the end.
Without this Transparency we would never have been able to do this, we wouldn’t know how far we had come, or how far we still had to go.
This is why for me Transparency is a key Leadership Principle.