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Leadership: Transparency or Translucency?

Do you really want to know everything that your boss knows? Should a leader wear their heart on their sleeve? Should a leader have a filter?

I've been thinking about this, particularly listening to discussions around COVID-19, strategies. plans and outcomes. Leaders are dealers in hope (Napoleon). We're not children, yet, can we fully handle the truth? We crave authenticity, but when there must be times our leaders are weeping at the slow-motion car crash of this pandemic, do we want to see this, or would we prefer reassurance that somehow we can emerge with light injuries.

Translucence, allows the shining light of leadership through: the perspective viewed from the top; clarity of purpose; the crystalline message; the gleam of projects completed; the glint of the light at the end of the tunnel. At the same time, a filter can shield us from the grubbiness of political struggle, the brutality of trade-offs, the fear, uncertainty and doubt behind decisions made blind of data. Our leaders are feeling their way in the dark. Many are haunted by their own mistakes, glowing in the glaring beam of hindsight.

When the dust has settled, many will be judged on how they handled this and the ghastly league table of just how badly things went wrong. When everyone's in the dark, how much should we know about what's hiding there? The light of reckoning day will be harsh.

Meanwhile, we ought to know what decisions are being made on which data, from whom and what that meant for the outcome. Leaders need to show HOW they arrive at decisions, HOW they responded to new information and HOW they decided what we should know.

Transparency takes no responsibility. It a lazy cut and paste. Translucency is an active attribute that shows what you are made of.


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