This is Part three in our series about Adaptive Leadership in a Time of Uncertainty.
This week, we’ll talk about the importance of transparency and clarity for leadership and present the 3 R’s framework when creating shared knowledge across an organization.
Clarity and Transparency
As we adapt to the changes emerging over the past few weeks, we are transitioning into a new phase of learning about organizations poised to reopen. We are once again being flooded with information. Good communication from leaders remains as important as ever.
A Google search of leadership articles about clarity and transparency reveals a number of writers telling you to value clarity over transparency. At Overlap, we think there’s another way. For us, transparency and clarity are equally important—there is no dichotomy needed! In this post, we’ll talk about the importance of transparency and clarity and present the 3 R’s framework when creating shared knowledge across an organization.
Transparency is about sharing information beyond the leadership or executive circle that supports teams and individuals to see how their contributions ladder into company success. It is a powerful lever in helping to build trust in leaders and the organization as a whole. We know that in an absence of transparency, people tend to worry and when they worry, they worry ”wrong”. This can sometimes look like imagining worst-case scenarios or perceived malintent. It can lead to reduced trust in individuals, teams, and the company as a whole. By sharing information, we are more likely to get useful feedback, which can help us make better decisions. For employees, being trusted in this way contributes to their sense of being valued in the organization and their overall happiness. However, sharing information is only half of the story. Doing it with clarity matters too.
Clarity is the quality or condition of being easy to understand. Brené Brown’s multi-year study on leadership found that most of us avoid clarity because we tell ourselves we’re being kind—what we’re actually doing is being unkind. As leaders, we need to stretch beyond these assumptions and embrace discomfort if we are going to achieve the transformative impact our role affords us.
We are living in a world where transparency, clarity, and kindness is more important than ever. As information and strategy shift, we update the team as much as we can—weekly during our team planning meetings and daily through Slack. We do our best to get input from employees as we navigate through these uncharted waters and rely on our shared values to drive which last minute opportunities we jump in on, how we grow our partnerships, and which projects we prioritize moving forward.
As we deliver messages across teams and gather input, we keep in mind the 3 R’s: review, repeat, and reinforce. This has been particularly helpful for transparency and clarity in a time when we seem to be bombarded with an excess of information.
As Overlap transitioned from an annual planning to a two-week planning format, we used the 3 R’s to ensure that this change was transparent and clearly articulated. The process is highlighted below:
- Review: During a team meeting we shared the executive leadership decision to park the annual plan for now and set two-week objectives that would be communicated regularly. By sharing this announcement in a team meeting, we were able to have two-way communication and respond to questions to ensure understanding.
- Repeat: We then shared this same decision again using multiple communication channels, including internal Slack updates, management meetings, and one-to-one conversations.
- Reinforce: We found practical ways to enact this change and show how this decision has been put into action. In our last online townhall, we connected this decision back to our values around context-sensitivity and curiosity. We also updated our “Strategy on a Page” document to reflect the two-week planning cycle.
In today’s ever-evolving world, transparency and clarity are essential qualities for courageous leaders supporting teams to create shared knowledge. The 3 R’s is a helpful framework for enacting these qualities with your team.
What strategies is leadership taking at your organization to bring clarity and transparency during this time?
Let us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.