A transparent leader is one to be respected and even admired. Transparency takes real guts! To engage in a conversation with someone or to stand before a group of people and share respectfully and transparently takes real guts. Why? Because transparency means you are willing to be vulnerable. Vulnerability opens us up to the potential of harsh judgment, cruel criticism and the pain of rejection. I often say that transparency requires a willingness to be vulnerable and vulnerability takes courage!

I remember the very first time I felt God prompting me to share a painful part of my past with the women I was teaching at a women’s conference. Right in the middle of the message I could sense that God wanted me to share, but would I dare? As I continued to speak to the women, a million questions were going through my head — I asked God, God is this really you? Are you telling me to share this now? What will they think? What if someone gets angry, starts crying, walks out or later tells me I was out of line? Could we have talked about this before I came here to teach? What will it matter if I don’t share it…do they really need to hear it?

I wanted to stay on topic.

I wanted to act as if I wasn’t aware of how God was leading me.

I wanted to get to the end of this message, pray and go home.

Yes, that’s how I was feeling.

I had been speaking publicly for a few years at that point and teaching a bible study class in my home but never had I shared some of the deepest hurts from my childhood, teens and young adult years.

I had to listen. I knew it was God. I even knew that what He was giving me to share was very much in tune with the needs of the women at that conference. I decided to trust Him, fully. I paused what I was saying. I looked around the conference of some 100 + women and I said, “Ladies, I need to be honest with you. I believe God is leading me to share a personal and what was, a very painful part of my past with you. May I have permission to share it? Yes, I asked permission. It shows respect to the listening audience. In that moment, women shook their heads in agreement. Eyebrows were raised. If I didn’t have their attention before (which I did), I surely did now. I  shared it. The moment I did, I saw women shaking their heads in understanding. Some cried, some held hands or put their arms around each other. I heard sounds of agreement. I said just enough to touch the hearts of who needed to be touched. It opened up the message even more and we proceeded from there. It was powerful!

At the end of the conference, I prayed for them. I was surprised how many women approached to speak to me at the end. The coordinator hugged and thanked me for the entire teaching. She advised that there was a line of women waiting to share with me. I looked down the row of women and saw about 30 women on line. I was deeply moved. I asked if it were possible to perhaps have about 15 minutes to sit in a circle with all the women and talk. They obliged.

What was the most common thing I heard from them? They appreciated my transparency. Wounds were being healed that day for many of those women because they were holding secrets and hurts and the transparency of what I shared broke those secrets wide open for them and allowed God’s healing to set it where they were hurting and feeling stuck.

As I shared earlier in the post, transparency requires vulnerability and vulnerability requires courage. I’ll add to that, it takes trusting that God is leading your life…ordering your steps. While I may not share painful parts of my past often in what I do, (there’s a timing for everything), I always remained transparent in what I say and how I live. It’s freeing! Ah that’s the right word for it — FREEING.  I most gravitate toward men and women leaders who are willing to be transparent. How about you?

Leadership shows up in different ways. It’s not just the person in the pulpit, the boss behind the desk or the director of the organization. If you are impacting the lives of others in some way then you are a leader. Love them. Serve them. Influence them and lead them and do it through transparency. They will thank you for your willingness to show your true self and you’ll help them to do the same because you’ll be leading by example.

In what ways have you experienced transparency in what you do? How has it impacted your life and those you lead and serve? Do share.

Cheering you on!