Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Funny Thing Happened with My Transparent Leadership Today…

December 9, 2009: The Employee Engagement Network

by Jonena Reith

I was on a conference call with two of my staff discussing our yearly calendar and holiday letter that we’ve sent out for the past 18 years. Both had done their homework and came to the meeting fully prepared to discuss the agenda items of design, budget, printing, mailing, etc.

I say that I pride myself in transparent leadership, but at the end of the call, I was asked: “You’re not unhappy with me because I said that we can only meet our deadline if you’re not as picky as usual?” Yikes, I had to step back! I’ve told our employees and contractors over and over that they can “lovingly” bring to my attention flaws or things that bug them about me and that I will try my best to be a team player open to the need for improvement.

Of course, I laughed and told her that, no, I wasn’t upset and that she was rightly justified in bringing up my need for perfection. The truth is that I am picky when it comes to marketing pieces and most everything else that goes out with the TBD logo on it, so I promised to trust their judgment for the look and feel and not to be so picky going forward. After all, these two women have handled this marketing project for a few years now. It’s time to pass the whole baton to them and for me to “get out of the weeds.”

So the moral of the story is: (1) Remember that on conference calls we can’t see each other’s body language to get a read on their reactions to the conversation. (2) Don’t assume that just because you say your office is always open and that you welcome constructive criticism that everyone will believe deep down that you mean it and that you won’t retaliate at performance appraisal time.

Oh, and thanks Lisa for being honest with me!

Leaders grow by being open to feedback and mentoring from the people around us. I want to be a trusted, transparent leader. I hope you do too!

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