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  • Olivier S.E. Courtois

Transparency, Sugar-Coating Or Secrecy?

Updated: Jun 1

When faced with the need to communicate difficult information to people, leaders face the same dilemma: should I share it, sugar-coat it, or keep it for me? In general, I have seen two types of leaders in this respect: those who are inclined to prefer transparency to secrecy, and the other ones.


The latter may have a feeling of protecting their teams or a sense of unique power. In reality, what they create is a culture of rumours, mistrust – or even distrust – and disengagement. Transparency requires courage. Because the shared information will inevitably trigger off questions. And call for responses. And also because some people don’t like the truth when it is scary. They prefer to bury their head. Look at the reaction of some newspaper readers, when journalists started to ring the Coronavirus alarm bell, who insulted the journalists for spreading fear. If we want to deal with adults, we must treat them as such.


Time-consuming? Right. But as a recently published article in the HBR pointed out: ‘an intense focus on efficiency and getting things done makes leaders less effective overall’. Let’s face situations courageously, communicate openly and engage conversations with our teams. This is our best investment in sustainable growth.


#leadership #communication #transparency

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