It’s always felt to me that being transparent was a big part of being honest. It can be, but they aren’t the same thing.
In his book “Lost and Founder“, author Rand Fishkin explains it this way:
Transparency isn’t the same as honesty. Honesty is saying only things that are true. Many founders and startup teams are honest (in that they don’t directly lie). But transparency requires digging deep to find and expose what others would normally leave unsaid and refusing to take the easy, quiet road.
Transparency becomes dishonest when you intentionally leave things out. For example, a leader could tell their team that their future is secure because they have $1M in the bank, but leaving out the fact that they also have $2M in debt would be very misleading.
The other side of transparency is being a good human about it. In her book “Radical Candor“, Kim Scott gives this brief example (as told by Rand Fishkin):
She outlines one of the most important things to remember when it comes to transparency: you need to balance it with empathy. If I tell you I hate your haircut, I’m being transparent. I’m also being an asshole.
If you’re going to be transparent, there are two things you always need to remember:
- Use transparency as a way to show more truth, not hide it.
- Be kind in how you deliver the news. Gary Vaynerchuk’s approach of “kind candor” is a great way to do it.
Transparency can be an awesome tool, as long as you use it honestly and wisely.