Humility and Transparency

This is part of my reflections from the OpsInsight Forum in Boston.

A reference made during the conference was from Jim Collins’ book “Good to Great.”  The book is a great insight into leadership characteristics that help companies move past the good enough stage to the great status.  The leadership characteristic that was referenced during the conference was leading with humility.  Great leaders are humble.

This characteristic is one the lean community talks about quite a bit.  The humbleness to continue to learn and not know everything.  The humbleness to give credit where credit is due.  These are aspects of the respect for people pillar of lean.

Where does transparency come in to play?  How does it tie to humility?

Too many times I have heard companies say they don’t pass information, especially bad news, down the organization because they are trying to protect their people.  Not passing down the information is being opaque, not transparent.

Isn’t this the opposite of humility?  Who are we to think we know best on how to protect employees?  Deciding what is best for others, doesn’t see like a humble thing to do to me.

Humble leaders are transparent with what is going on in the company, whether it is bad news or good news.  A humble leader doesn’t try to protect employees by hiding information but tries to protect them by being open and honest.

I don’t believe humility and transparency independent of each other.  A leader can be transparent and have no humility, but a leader can not show humility without being transparent.  Transparency can be an indicator of a humble leader.  And humility is a quality we look for in leaders from a lean perspective.

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Posted on May 6, 2011, in Leadership, Respect for People and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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