Fail, Survive, or Thrive

October 24, 2022 @ 12:00am

Transparency builds trust, let us say that again, but altogether, transparency builds trust. Effective leaders are transparent both inwards and outwards. That builds a culture of trust within the organization, but also builds community trust outside of the organization.

It is very cliché to say you have an open-door policy. And most will assume that the door is open so people can come in and talk to you. But that is only part of the reason my door is open. My door is open so information and people can flow freely in and out of my office. I do not have any secrets to hide from my staff, grantors, or the community. If you want to know, walk in my open door, and pull up a seat. We can have conversation and I am happy to answer the questions someone may have. I am also happy for that individual to take that information and share it with others. There are no secrets, it is transparency.

And transparency builds trust and rapport. Every decision that comes out of my office is highly calculated, nothing is decided on a whim. Most of my staff know that now, and I am always willing to share the calculation with them. It is never because I said so, it is because x,y,z flows into a,b,c and will result in p. Try to throw that calculation on a white board and process through it! But all jokes aside, I am always willing to explain the rationale behind a decision which has built the culture of trust and rapport within this organization and my staff.

With rationales, trust, and rapport comes the acceptance of change. Now humans are creatures of habit. We get set in our ways, and we want to stick to our ways. But in many industries, like healthcare, specifically reproductive health care post Dobbs, change is a necessity. It feels like things change as frequently as the wind blows. Thankfully, the wind does not blow quite as much in northern Wisconsin as it did in South Dakota. But nonetheless, as a healthcare entity we have learned to be flexible out of necessity.

Without rationales, trust, and rapport, how do you gain staff buy-in for change? You do not. It is as simple as that. Change becomes burdensome and unlikely if your staff are not onboard. That is some really heavy stuff. But as a leader, in whatever realm you are in I encourage you to self-reflect. What it your level of transparency? Is your door open, for two-way traffic? Have you established trust? Rapport? Do you provide rationale? Or do you expect people to change because you said so?

Now there are several change models out there, but my favorite is broken into six components and aligns well with the ideas of transparency, trust, and rapport. If any of the components are missing the change will be unsuccessful. So here is what you need: a clear and compelling reason for change, leadership commitment to the change, something in it for the employee, a great implementation plan, the skills, knowledge, and capacity to change, and structure and reinforcement once the change has occurred. And for me, ensuring the six components are met, is where my high calculations appear.

About the author: Jessica Scharfenberg
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