How great executives make transparent decisions

We are entering a new era of executive management. Travis Kalanick’s quick exit from Uber is just the latest in a litany of high-profile ousters of founders such as Jerry Yang (Yahoo) and Jack Dorsey (Twitter)[i]. Some of tech’s most prominent stars have been booted for bad behavior, and others for corporate performance. But Kalanick’s fall from grace is of the Tiger Woods variety, given that Uber is the most valuable venture-backed company in the world (worth $68 billion)[ii].

There was a time when companies were a black box[iii]. Owners didn’t share financial statements, business strategies were kept close to the vest, and employees just kept their noses to the grindstone. We were taught to mind our own business. Today, customers are conducting audits of suppliers and asking to see their financial statements. They scorecard their suppliers and share the results with the competition. Social media has opened the kimono, and if executives behave badly, it shows up on Glassdoor the next day. Transparency has become fashionable.

The technology sector, particularly Silicon Valley, is setting the bar for employer brands. Alternative work environments are not some fad, but an undeniable employment trend. The prominence of communal work spaces and collaboration tools promotes an environment where everyone’s work is exposed. We have gone from black box to glass box.

There are some managers who just don’t buy in to purpose-driven mission statements, values, and anything that feels like fluff to them. I wish them luck hiring Millennials; they are going to need it. It’s easy for workers to sniff out employers who do not honor their employees through their values, behaviors and work environment.

Workers want to be part of something bigger than themselves, and that requires transparency on the part of employers. Those companies who lead with vision, share their results and proactively connect their employees to the organization will have a competitive advantage over those who do not.

Those who promote a diverse work environment will have more diverse thinking than those who hire people who only look like themselves. And everyone is going to know it.

Culture isn’t something HR does. It is not a chic trend thing you adopt because you read about it Fast Company; it’s the currency of a digital world. If you haven’t held your managers accountable for their behavior, you better get on board if you want to sustain a successful business. Embrace transparency, before your glass box is shattered into pieces.

[i] Kalanick Joins List of Ousted Founders, The Wall Street Journal

[ii] Uber’s Backers Force Out Leader, The Wall Street Journal

[iii] Travis Kalanick, Radical Transparency, and the Rise of Glass Box Brands by David Matten No Co Shift

Category: Leadership

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About the Author: Marc Emmer

Marc Emmer is President of Optimize Inc., a management consulting firm specializing in strategic planning. Emmer is a sixteen-year Vistage member and a Vistage speaker. The release of his second book, “Momentum, Ho

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  1. ben dominitz

    December 4, 2018 at 7:06 am

    Kalanick was a bad boy. The kind one needs to blast past the anti-competitive laws that protected taxi owners. Often, founders are not the right leaders for the long-run. It doesn’t make their contribution less fundamental. Without a Kalanick, there wouldn’t have been an alternative transportation system providing great service to millions.

    I don’t disagree with the premise of the article. However, we should not forget the uniqueness of those intrepid visionaries, who, through their imperfections, blazed through a road not previously taken.

  2. If you are not holding those accountable around you then you are not a leader. If you do not value your people and invest in them then you will be left behind while they move on to a place where they can thrive without you.

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