Leadership: Transparency versus Authenticity

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?

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Rich Kirkpatrick

Rich Kirkpatrick

Writer, Speaker, and Musician. Rich Kirkpatrick was recently rated #13 of the “Top 75 Religion Bloggers” by Newsmax.com, having also received recognition by Worship Leader Magazine as “Editor’s Choice” for the “Best of the Best” of blogs in 2011, 2014, 2015 and 2016.

20 comments

  1. I think both transparency and authenticity are important. However, either one used w/o wisdom and some common sense can end up in disaster!!
    I might want to share my story with someone in the effort to be transparent and authentic/real with them. However, they might not be ready for the emotional deluge my story would dump on them. So in my effort to be true and right I might damage them more than help them.

    I think there is a difference between authenticity and transparency but they are not mutually exclusive. They need to be used in together and in balance. We just need to keep in mind the maturity of the hearer and be self aware not to blindly “vomit” our internal tidbits.

    Great post bro!!!

  2. I think both transparency and authenticity are important. However, either one used w/o wisdom and some common sense can end up in disaster!!
    I might want to share my story with someone in the effort to be transparent and authentic/real with them. However, they might not be ready for the emotional deluge my story would dump on them. So in my effort to be true and right I might damage them more than help them.

    I think there is a difference between authenticity and transparency but they are not mutually exclusive. They need to be used in together and in balance. We just need to keep in mind the maturity of the hearer and be self aware not to blindly “vomit” our internal tidbits.

    Great post bro!!!

  3. I think both transparency and authenticity are important. However, either one used w/o wisdom and some common sense can end up in disaster!!
    I might want to share my story with someone in the effort to be transparent and authentic/real with them. However, they might not be ready for the emotional deluge my story would dump on them. So in my effort to be true and right I might damage them more than help them.

    I think there is a difference between authenticity and transparency but they are not mutually exclusive. They need to be used in together and in balance. We just need to keep in mind the maturity of the hearer and be self aware not to blindly “vomit” our internal tidbits.

    Great post bro!!!

  4. I think both transparency and authenticity are important. However, either one used w/o wisdom and some common sense can end up in disaster!!
    I might want to share my story with someone in the effort to be transparent and authentic/real with them. However, they might not be ready for the emotional deluge my story would dump on them. So in my effort to be true and right I might damage them more than help them.

    I think there is a difference between authenticity and transparency but they are not mutually exclusive. They need to be used in together and in balance. We just need to keep in mind the maturity of the hearer and be self aware not to blindly “vomit” our internal tidbits.

    Great post bro!!!

  5. My point about authenticity is that there is NO RISK, like there is with transparency. Being authentic does not mean being completely transparent about the details of your life with people. It means living a lifestyle that is genuine, healthy and open.
    Now, transparency might be required to be authentic given certain circumstances. But, authenticity is not required for being transparent necessarily. So, people who share everything do not necessarily live up to their claim of being genuine for doing it. They may only confess, for instance, because they were caught.

    Sure love this conversation. I have to credit songwriter Mark Roach and my new friend Doug Leavy and Todd Cullen for sharpening me by having this fun conversation!

  6. My point about authenticity is that there is NO RISK, like there is with transparency. Being authentic does not mean being completely transparent about the details of your life with people. It means living a lifestyle that is genuine, healthy and open.
    Now, transparency might be required to be authentic given certain circumstances. But, authenticity is not required for being transparent necessarily. So, people who share everything do not necessarily live up to their claim of being genuine for doing it. They may only confess, for instance, because they were caught.

    Sure love this conversation. I have to credit songwriter Mark Roach and my new friend Doug Leavy and Todd Cullen for sharpening me by having this fun conversation!

  7. My point about authenticity is that there is NO RISK, like there is with transparency. Being authentic does not mean being completely transparent about the details of your life with people. It means living a lifestyle that is genuine, healthy and open.
    Now, transparency might be required to be authentic given certain circumstances. But, authenticity is not required for being transparent necessarily. So, people who share everything do not necessarily live up to their claim of being genuine for doing it. They may only confess, for instance, because they were caught.

    Sure love this conversation. I have to credit songwriter Mark Roach and my new friend Doug Leavy and Todd Cullen for sharpening me by having this fun conversation!

  8. My point about authenticity is that there is NO RISK, like there is with transparency. Being authentic does not mean being completely transparent about the details of your life with people. It means living a lifestyle that is genuine, healthy and open.
    Now, transparency might be required to be authentic given certain circumstances. But, authenticity is not required for being transparent necessarily. So, people who share everything do not necessarily live up to their claim of being genuine for doing it. They may only confess, for instance, because they were caught.

    Sure love this conversation. I have to credit songwriter Mark Roach and my new friend Doug Leavy and Todd Cullen for sharpening me by having this fun conversation!

  9. Sorry that I forgot to mention Daniel Maggart was with us that night, too.

  10. Sorry that I forgot to mention Daniel Maggart was with us that night, too.

  11. Sorry that I forgot to mention Daniel Maggart was with us that night, too.

  12. Sorry that I forgot to mention Daniel Maggart was with us that night, too.

  13. I must be authentic all the time. And when I choose to be transparent, I carefully choose where and when to be transparent. I’ve got a few friends who are “closer than brothers (sisters)” in whose presence I’m always safe and vice versa. I’ve committed to never slip in and out of transparency on an impulsive, emotional, or even manipulative whim…I’ve watched authenticity slide into ultra-transparency disguised as pseudo-authenticity. Very subtle. Easy to get sucked into. But with devastating effects. God help us all as leaders to not get sucked into narcissistic transparency. This is a great conversation to keep ongoing.

  14. I must be authentic all the time. And when I choose to be transparent, I carefully choose where and when to be transparent. I’ve got a few friends who are “closer than brothers (sisters)” in whose presence I’m always safe and vice versa. I’ve committed to never slip in and out of transparency on an impulsive, emotional, or even manipulative whim…I’ve watched authenticity slide into ultra-transparency disguised as pseudo-authenticity. Very subtle. Easy to get sucked into. But with devastating effects. God help us all as leaders to not get sucked into narcissistic transparency. This is a great conversation to keep ongoing.

  15. I must be authentic all the time. And when I choose to be transparent, I carefully choose where and when to be transparent. I’ve got a few friends who are “closer than brothers (sisters)” in whose presence I’m always safe and vice versa. I’ve committed to never slip in and out of transparency on an impulsive, emotional, or even manipulative whim…I’ve watched authenticity slide into ultra-transparency disguised as pseudo-authenticity. Very subtle. Easy to get sucked into. But with devastating effects. God help us all as leaders to not get sucked into narcissistic transparency. This is a great conversation to keep ongoing.

  16. I must be authentic all the time. And when I choose to be transparent, I carefully choose where and when to be transparent. I’ve got a few friends who are “closer than brothers (sisters)” in whose presence I’m always safe and vice versa. I’ve committed to never slip in and out of transparency on an impulsive, emotional, or even manipulative whim…I’ve watched authenticity slide into ultra-transparency disguised as pseudo-authenticity. Very subtle. Easy to get sucked into. But with devastating effects. God help us all as leaders to not get sucked into narcissistic transparency. This is a great conversation to keep ongoing.

  17. “God help us all as leaders to not get sucked into narcissistic transparency.”
    Well put Marina!

  18. “God help us all as leaders to not get sucked into narcissistic transparency.”
    Well put Marina!

  19. “God help us all as leaders to not get sucked into narcissistic transparency.”
    Well put Marina!

  20. “God help us all as leaders to not get sucked into narcissistic transparency.”
    Well put Marina!

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