Trust and Transparency

Glenn Tecker

    Last week, I blogged about the four characteristics of successful partnerships. Today I want to explore building a culture of trust and transparency. They are inextricably linked together. Transparency is a means to another end: a trusting environment. Increased transparency assists in creating a culture where trust abounds; ultimately creating an association that is satisfying and enjoyable to join and to participate in.

    Having a well defined vision is the building block of trust. Organizations can shape a Culture of Trust by:

    • Developing and widely communicating about organizational vision
    • Using organizational vision to handle difficult times
    • Consistently live the vision

    There are also certain things that inspire trust:

    • Reliability. Don’t make commitments you can’t keep; clarify expectations and deliver on promises.
    • Congruence. Align language and actions with thinking and true feelings.
    • Acceptance. Withhold judgment or criticism; separate the person from the performance.
    • Openness. State intentions and talk straight; be honest about limitations and concerns

    In my years of working with associations, I have observed the following about trust:

    • Trust requires a communication system and process that is open and that spans all segments of the organization.
    • Trust occurs in organizations where there is open access to information about what the organization is doing, why it is doing it, and how well they are doing.
    • Trust creates a satisfying and enjoyable environment that encourages involvement, open access to information, community building, support for grass-roots efforts, and a sense that the association is at the center of relevant activity within the profession it represents.
    • Trust allows an organization to eliminate unnecessary controls and create increased value for members through greater nimbleness and responsiveness.
    • Reducing an association’s traditional aversion to risk is critical to building a culture of trust, and there must be common agreement on what taking the risk will accomplish.

    Transparency is a process by which information about existing conditions, decisions, and actions is made accessible, visible and understandable. Transparency is not what trust is about. Transparency is a vehicle for behaving in a fashion that is honest and open.
    Honest = Tell the truth.
    Open = Share the why; not just the what – for both successes and failures.

    This culture of trust and transparency is critical to moving an association forward effectively. They affect the leadership/staff relationship. The relationship between the association and its members. The relationship between an association and its chapters or component organizations. Partnerships with other organizations. And it builds an environment where members want to get involved, and where innovation thrives.

    About the Author

    Glenn Tecker

    Glenn is a Principal Consultant, Chairman and Co-CEO of Tecker International. He has served in an executive capacity with business, public agencies, and non-profit organizations. Glenn is widely acknowledged as one of the world's foremost experts on leadership and strategy.