Obama ran a campaign with the promise of being “transparent” to the people in reaction to many who saw the previous administration as a stone wall. Now, we hear Anderson Cooper of CNN say “gonna keep them honest” with that issue. Transparency is an interesting word and with some friends the other night a very prolonged discussion arose about the difference between transparency and authenticity.
Transparency is a policy. Authenticity is just what it is–authentic. One needs policing and accountability, the other happens when choices are willingly made for hopefully the healthiest of motives. So, in short, I would take authenticity far above transparency.
When things go bad, we need to react to build back the account of trust by usually being “transparent” in order to show for a time that things consistently will be done right. With banks failing, we all want to see what the executives, bureaucrats, politicians and institutions will do in light of failing us. When we fail, often we have to “fess up” to prove we know what people have seen as bad is bad and we agree with them.
Still, it is better to choose authenticity. This does not mean we reveal every morsel of dirt and are transparent to everyone about all, it just means we are living rightly. It means we choose to not walk in dark places and are not afraid of light when it happens to shine in our direction. We will be caught, yes. But, we will be caught with authenticity. Or, not.
As a leader, people do not have to know the details of every bad thing I have ever done or even might contemplate doing does it? It means I have to live rightly and authentically. It means I choose. When I fail, I have already made the choice to be authentic about that if that happens. At least, this sounds like the right position. What do you think–do we need to be massively open-book transparent, or just “authentic” and, is there a difference between the two?