Some people view transparency as a sign of weakness, but I view it as a sign of strength and humility. As leaders, we all want respect. We want our co-workers to respect us. We want other people in the community to respect us. We want our families to respect us. Desiring respect isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It is our pathway to gaining respect that we often misinterpret.
Let’s talk about the pathway to respect that is most common amongst leaders. Most of the time you will see leaders use their titles, position, and power to make sure everyone knows who they are. People will use power and prestige to “puff their chest out” and make sure others see that they are in the position they are in because of the work they have put in. Their pride blinds them to see that this isn’t creating respect. It is creating fear, intimidation, and an unhealthy environment for those they are leading. No one got to where they are by themselves . Every one of us have had many people speak into our lives, give us opportunity, or teach us the way. No one is a self-made individual.
Respect doesn’t come through our own pride, it comes the opposite way, humility. Leaders are first and foremost servants. Leaders that think they always have to be out-front will hinder their growth and the growth of others. When we see ourselves as servants, we can better utilize our gifts to serve others. I heard a great teaching on this recently where someone said, “Our gifts are not merit badges to be worn, but rather they are servant towels we use to wash one another’s feet. That is a completely different approach to leadership altogether.
When a leader is humble, they will be transparent. Transparency communicates to those you are leading that we all hold equal value because I am a human…just like you. As a lead pastor of a church, it is often difficult to communicate your humanity to the congregation. People expect you to be perfect, or at least they think your life is better than theirs. This simply isn’t true. I try to communicate to the congregation regularly that I am a human…just like you. My wife and I argue over the same stuff you argue with your spouse over. My kids do some of the same stupid stuff your kids do. We make financial mistakes and we don’t always wake up happy. Communicating such ideas requires that you stop trying to be someone you are not. Don’t try to earn respect by hiding behind your humanity. Embrace your humanity and “do-life” with those you are leading by being transparent.
Transparency earns respect because people want to follow someone who is real. Vulnerability means you lay your cards out on the table and you live authentically in front of those you lead. It is riskier because not everyone will want to reciprocate authenticity, but when you lay your head on your pillow at night, you can know you have been real with people and true to yourself. As you continue to genuinely grow and improve, you will get better and better. Grow with people. Do life with people. Let people know you genuinely care and you trust them with who you are. In turn, they will believe you care. Your words will mean more to them and ultimately, they will respect you more.
Think about someone who is “real”. Who comes to mind? What is something you respect about that person? Comment your answers below! Thanks for reading.