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Books for those in ministry organizations who desire to take their leadership, teams, governance, and ministry effectiveness to the next level.

19 Oct '11

Transparency in leadership

Posted by T.J. Addington in emotional intelligence (EQ), Healthy leaders
Leaders are often reluctant to be candid about their own struggles and their shadow side, thinking that those they lead will think less of them for revealing their own mistakes and failures. Ironically, if you ask those they lead if they think less of them or more of them for doing so the answer is invariably "more!"

Why? first because those we lead know we are not without our own struggles and in fact, they have probably experienced our shadow side from time to time. Second, our transparency is a sign of something that those we lead value highly: authenticity. To pretend we don't have similar struggles to others is inauthentic and to allow others to put us on a pedestal is dangerous because the pedestal will fall. What people want in a leader is authentic character without pretence. Pretence is a lie and it reveals lack of integrity.

Third, our transparency invites those we lead to join us on a journey toward greater wholeness, maturity and personal growth. I cannot challenge others to grow if there is not evidence of growth in my own life. The first step in growth is acknowledging the need and it is authentic, transparent, humble individuals who acknowledge their need. Pride does not acknowledge need for growth either to ourselves or to others. And it is deadly to ministry organizations where humility is a prerequisite for true service. Humble, transparent leaders grow humble, transparent teams.

The ability to be transparent comes out of true introspection regarding our own lives - the good and bad - and an attitude that we have nothing to prove to others and nothing to lose by being honest. What we fear we will lose (respect) is ironically what we gain. More importantly, however, we grow a team that does not live with pretence but with authenticity. When leaders choose to be authentic others will. When leaders choose pretence, others do the same.

None of us can relate to perfect people since that is not the reality we live with. Thus if leaders want those they lead to relate to them they will choose transparency over pretence. I love the advice Paul gave to Timothy in 1 Timothy 4:15 - "Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress." The greatest example we can be to others is that they can see the progress of growth in our own lives.