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A Transparent Environment

What would it take to create an environment in your place of work where others feel safe to share their shortcomings? This question was posed by Mike on Thursday’s Leadershift call, and it deeply resonated with me. This question can be expanded outside of just work to also be applied in your home, in your social circles, or in your church. What can you do to create an environment where it is safe to be vulnerable, and why is that even important?

This is important because I believe the only way to grow begins with honesty and authenticity. If someone messes up at work but knows they will be yelled at and thrown under the bus for their actions, it becomes hard to “own your mistakes,” and it becomes even harder to actually grow from them. Or maybe someone has a concern about themself or a co-worker. If they don’t believe this concern will be well-received or taken seriously, they might not bother bringing it up, and that silence could be costly. On the flip side, maybe an employee has a brilliant idea of how to better improve the way something is done, but they’ve seen others be brushed off. No one likes rejection, and if that is a looming fear in the environment you’ve helped create, very little growth and authenticity is going to transpire.

Many students on Thursday’s call shared what they believe was needed in order to create an environment others feel safe to share their shortcomings in:

“Maybe having an opportunity to open up and throw anything out there that you’re feeling or seeing; just being able to share it without any kind of real come back or negative response.”

“Any problems at work, they know you’ll work together to fix it. You have their back.”

“You need to have a relationship with them [your people/coworkers] but also communicate your own shortcomings to them as well. Get their buy-in and create more of a team environment, even if you are their superior.”

“You need to be personable.”

“It helps to be transparent and approachable. Create the space for one-on-one when necessary.”

“Do not make someone feel like they are on trial.”

“Be sure to thank people for their honesty and transparency.”

A truth that is reiterated over and over in Leadershift is that growth isn’t automatic. It isn’t just going to “happen” to you. Growth requires responsibility, clarity, intentionality, and accountability. Likewise, you can’t dream up the environment you want to be in and just expect for it to happen- even if you “want it” bad enough. You must work to create this safe environment, and it won’t happen overnight. Mike pointed out that, “the environment that you spend most of your life in will impact you.”

If you are a business owner, does your business have an environment that challenges your people, supports your people, affirms your people, and truly listens to your people? The environment you allow is what