One of the most important signs of a good leader is that they are respected. This doesn’t necessarily mean they are liked, but there is a willingness to accept the leader’s authority and to help pursue organizational goals.

A general respect for someone in charge speaks volumes about their character and leadership skills.

An important factor which determines whether employees respect a leader is how they posture themselves toward their employees.

A large part of posturing yourself as a leader is navigating the parts of yourself you withhold and the parts of yourself you share.

Transparency is important. This does not mean your home life has to drip into your professional life or that you need to tell your employees every single problem you’re currently facing after hours.

However, the manner in which you handle issues with employees, share company struggles with them, and how you handle your own mistakes, are matters you can’t overlook.

It all comes back to transparency. Stay in control by showing some humility and practicing honesty. Stay a transparent leader, but a leader nonetheless.

Oh, the Humanity!

I believe being personable means opening up about the personal sometimes. Your employees should see you’re a human with your own strengths and weaknesses, just like them.

This doesn’t mean you have to share every single thing you’re going through in your day-to-day — in fact, that could be somewhat unprofessional.

But you shouldn’t be nervous to be upfront about discussing major events, or your weaknesses or your mistakes. Those things help build trust between you and your employees.

Last fall and winter, I went through one of the worst depressive phases I’d experienced in years. My mental health was starting to affect my physical well-being.

I wasn’t sleeping well; I was struggling not to vomit due to nervousness, and I could barely focus on my work. My boss at the time sat me down and first of all asked if I was okay.

I didn’t tell him all the details, but he understood the importance of self-care and mental health and how it plays into burning out, and offered me the rest of the week off.

If it wasn’t for his willingness to share his own struggles and his emotional empathy, I may not have been able to power through or rest well enough to get back on the horse stronger than before.

That personal vulnerability and understanding ultimately benefited me as an employee, as well as the work I’ve been able to do for the company. Do not underestimate the significance of empathy.

Avoiding the Blame Game

Reprimanding is a necessary part of managing. But do so with the facts on hand, a merciful mind, humility, and understanding. If you’re able to offer advice, tell them what helps you and be upfront about your own struggles in work.

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Before you approach something with an aggressive mindset, try to think of how you would like to be instructed or reprimanded first.

When something goes wrong on a project, don’t be too quick to point the finger. Speak to who’s in charge of each project and try to find what goals weren’t hit and why.

If you personally could have done something different, then own it and model accountability. Employees need to know you won’t explode on them if something happens that isn’t their fault, and that you’ll be open minded and understanding when there are reasonable ways they can improve.

Staying Open Minded

Transparency about your own humanity means knowing you don’t always have the right answers. Therefore, it’s important to admit when you’ve made the wrong decision.

Moreover, it’s important to not blame anyone for the negative consequences of doing what you told them to do. This would make you a hypocrite, and it’s hard to respect a hypocrite, particularly from the employee’s perspective.

However, this doesn’t mean you should let your employees walk all over you either. After all, a good leader should be both personable and authoritative.

In the healthcare industry, they describe this with the term “hybrid management.” The point is there are two different kinds of management styles. One is analytical and finance based, and the other is charismatic and personable. Both are necessary to be a good manager.

A good manager is both an empathetic person to their employees and a learning expert in the industry they work in.

Staying open minded to become better at both of these things requires transparency with employees, but a respectful firmness.

Maintaining the balance of personal transparency, managerial transparency, and authority can be difficult. How do you do it?

How Do You Maintain Transparency?

If you have ideas you feel like sharing that might be helpful to readers, share them in the comments section below. Thanks!

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Robert Lanterman
Robert Lanterman is a freelance writer from Boise, ID who now lives in Queens, NY. In addition to being a writer, he runs his own record label called Hidden Home Records. In 2014 he graduated from the College of Idaho with a bachelor's degree in business and a minor in creative writing. When he's not writing or labeling, he's probably at band practice or struggling to figure out the New York City subway system.