Transparency: The Only Sustainable Way Forward

Transparency: The Only Sustainable Way Forward

Transparency has become more than just a buzzword; it’s now a fundamental guiding principle in the business world.

Across all industries, companies are choosing to prioritize transparency in their practices. In my experience as a leader, I’ve found that the ability to be transparent is one of the most impactful factors on an organization’s future trajectory and sustained success.

Action Without Honesty Will Get You Nowhere

To be transparent about something is simply to allow others to see and understand the reality of it. This honesty is key to creating meaningful change within your organization. Without it, there is no real foundation to build on.

When I started my journey as the CEO of Nevada Donor Network, transparency was nearly nonexistent. We were a business with a toxic and opaque culture at the time. The rampant misrepresentation and lack of accountability that had gone unchecked for years finally came to a head. We were mere months away from being shut down by the US government.

I knew creating a foundation of truth before anything else was imperative. After all, action based on non-reality is insanity and will inevitably not yield effective results.

Sunlight Is the Best Disinfectant

Transparency and accountability go hand in hand. Shining a light on the reality of an organization strengthens the foundation of honesty and trust that is essential to creating real progress. A transparent workplace culture makes accountability necessary at all levels of an organization, leadership included.

Leaders must lead by example. This means taking responsibility for their actions, being transparent about their decisions, and ultimately creating an environment where others feel comfortable doing the same. Creating a system built on inclusion and transparency (rather than siloed operations and false appearances) will quickly shine a light on people or processes that don’t align with a company’s defined values or goals.

Facts Foster Progress; Fiction Does Not

Before I came on at NDN, there was a lack of transparency to the point of management doctoring performance stats to make it seem like the organization was doing better than it was. Considering our position on the chopping block, this house-of-cards technique was NOT working out for us.

There was just no way for us to improve while being dishonest about the reality of the situation. We needed to come clean about our shortcomings to create an actionable plan to improve, regain trust with our governing body, and survive to save and improve the lives of those we served.

While it was brutal to openly admit our faults and deficiencies, it jumpstarted a successful turnaround and ultimately got us to where we are today. We were then able to accurately measure our improvements and setbacks and report those without reservation.

Over a decade later, we are one of the top-performing organ procurement organizations in the U.S., and we could never have accomplished that without transparency, public reporting, and universal accountability.

Honesty Plus Inclusion Equals Widespread Buy-In

Transparency helps employees understand the company’s flaws, goals, and decision-making processes. On the other hand, extensive inclusion gives team members a voice in finding the best way forward. Designing a candid, collaborative, and accepting environment allows individuals to show up as their authentic selves while harnessing the invaluable knowledge and insights they have to bring to the table.

In my first few years at NDN, we aimed to intensively improve all aspects of our organization. I made an effort to include every person at the company while creating our strategies for course correction. I wanted everyone to know that their thoughts were valued and that, as stakeholders, they had a right to both know and have a say in what was going on within their workplace. Our inclusion practices have resulted in sweeping employee buy-in and helped us move forward together.

To summarize, transparency is not merely a trend or a corporate strategy but the only sustainable way forward. The best choice will always be honest communication about challenges and a clear, public action plan. This sets a company up for success and instills confidence in employees, customers, and investors alike.

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