What makes a strong leader? In every relationship, trust is one of the top factors that affects how individuals relate and connect with one another. This doesn’t just apply to personal life, but it also includes professional. According to Edelman’s 2017 Trust Barometer, today’s reality is 63% of Canadians don’t trust their employer.

One of the main sources of distrust stems from the absence of transparency in the workplace. With millennial workers demanding authenticity, transparency has become the kingpin in developing a culture of trust within the workplace. A great leader understands the need to be transparent and often vulnerable to effectively engage and retain their employees.

Vulnerability does not equate to weakness

In a world of oversharing personal information, employees expect a level of candid sharing from their leaders. In a Forbes article, Glenn Llopis states, “We are all living during a time when people want and expect their leaders to be more human, less perfect and at times a bit vulnerable – regardless of hierarchy or rank”.

The young working professionals of today are seeking companies that share the same values. They’re hungry for relatable leaders. For employers, that means placing their most authentic selves at the forefront and forming genuine connections with their employees.

Tim Sae Koo, CEO of TINT, decided to break down walls by hosting a bi-monthly series, where he allowed his employees to ask him anything regarding his CEO duties or entrepreneurial exploits. In doing so, he let his employees venture into the mind of their CEO, both personally and professionally. Sae Koo was overwhelmed by the amount of positive feedback he received from his employees upon announcing this new initiative. His vulnerability didn’t portray as a weak and inefficient leader. On the contrary, his employees recognized his strength through his candidness to help them achieve their own personal accomplishments and overall connected with Sae Koo on a more human level.

Surging employee productivity

Transparency doesn’t always mean being vulnerable about something personal, either. Mathilde Collin, CEO of Front, has created a transparent environment at her organization by publicly sharing her calendar, available to all her employees to view how she is spending her time. On the flip side, Collin’s employees also have openly visible calendars , allowing her to understand how her employee time is spent.

This “open” calendar policy allows both employee and colleagues to appropriately review how time is being spent and allocate more time to the areas that need improvement. By exposing her calendar, Collin is installing a culture of trust. She has reduced the sense of secrecy; in turn, her employees feel more engaged and empowered in the workplace. The impact of this has not only helped establish trust, but it has also increased productivity – both of her employees and of Collin herself – by allowing them to better focus their time.

Establishing equity and increasing buy-in

Another step of successfully adopting a culture of transparency is assuring your employees that they are constantly in the loop. This sense of belonging enables workers to fully embody their roles and view themselves as integral stakeholders within the company.

LinkedIn CEO, Jeff Weiner, advocates transparency by holding bi-weekly all hands meetings. During these sessions, he provides his employees with company updates and recognizes concerns and suggestions from the team. Weiner’s employees consequently become part of his decision-making process and in turn, pivotal agents in the company’s success.

Being a transparent leader

Ultimately, a transparent culture is the key ingredient for employee engagement and retention. Employees want their voices to be heard and feel like their concerns are being taken into consideration. When leaders are honest with their employees, it results in better interactions and builds mutual trust. Companies need to keep employees in the loop on their personal performance and the organization’s direction; employees are more likely to show initiative and take ownership. The end result is that your employees are more engaged in the company, in their teammates, and in you as a leader.