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Senior Correspondent

Fear is behind leaders who hide in ivory towers. Transparency terrifies; they’re peek-a-boo leaders. 

Perhaps they’re afraid someone will see they don’t know as much as they pretend to, or can’t do as much as they let on. 

1. What if I don’t know? 
2. What if they don’t respect me? 
3. What if I make a mistake? 
4. What if others find out? 
5. What if they get too close to me? 

Fear creates barriers; barriers block influence. Fearful leaders keep others at arm’s distance, which limits influence. 

We can tell when leaders posture and pretend, yet we play along. Worse yet, we sometimes join the façade. 

The deepest danger of fearful leaders is their potential to create fear-driven cultures. 

I’ve talked with leaders from around the globe, and the real ones stand out. Authentic leaders inspire me to become better. Fearful leaders illustrate the path to avoidance. They show me what not to be. 

Transparency connects. When you lower your façade, other people lower theirs; connection can then occur.

Getting Started

Telling others how you really are in the present may be too much of a jolt for them and you.

Share stories from your past. Begin by saying, “I remember when ______.” Fill in the blank with a story that expresses powerful emotions like joy, fear, pride, or sorrow.

Transparency isn’t just about negative or dark emotion. Share the good stuff, too.

I’m not suggesting you spill your guts — only that you stop pretending you’re something you aren’t.

The Leadership Component

Always include optimism and confidence when you express dark or negative emotion. “We’re facing a challenge that keeps me up at night,” by itself, is woe-is-me self-indulgence. Adding, “I believe we can rise up and overcome,” expresses leadership.

How can leaders navigate the waters of transparency?

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