During times of uncertainty, it is critical that leaders are able to engage with their teams, be seen as trustworthy, and position themselves to lead with influence. One way to accomplish this is to increase the level of transparency throughout your veterinary practice. Why? Employees want to trust their leadership and feel connected to their coworkers and the practice. Here are three ways increase transparency with your team.
1. Show your human side
This form of transparency highlights leaders as people first, versus having your team always see you as “the boss”. Let your team see your human side. Everyone, including yourself, is going through a completely unique experience right now; you can share that with your team. However, be careful not to share stories or feeling that would evoke fear or panic. Just remember to be human and share stories that will help people relate to you as a person as well as a leader.
2. Admit you need help
None of us has been in a situation like this before. These are uncharted waters for everyone, leaders included. Recognizing this, showing others, and allowing your team to help and support you builds a level of trust. I believe people are generally good and have a natural altruistic tendencies. When we are able to help others, it gives us self-worth, makes us feel good, and increases our confidence. When a boss asks for help, it builds a level of accomplishment and camaraderie and, yes, more trust.
3. Be comfortable saying “I don’t know.”
You are in a leadership role not because you know everything, but because you know how to bring out the best in others. Although it is important for our leaders to stay composed, particularly in times of crisis, it is also okay for leaders to say, “I don’t know.” This sentiment is important for building a team. It allows each individual to find his or her voice and offer an opinion in an effort to improve new and changing processes. While your team is working to adjust, innovate, and evolve, encourage others to share their input and respond in a way that shows them you are learning from their feedback too. Use these opportunities to specifically label how their feedback helped drive a decision or how their strengths help to support you, the team, and the practice.
A leader should always be learning, changing, and striving to be better. That in itself is a very human, very vulnerable, and a very honest place to be. So be transparent, and let people see that. It will not be perceived as a weakness, but a strength.