How To Be A Transparent Leader From Day One


Congratulations, you just landed your dream job or big assignment. You’re excited about this opportunity and have great designs for your new team. You’re already thinking about the impact you want to have and how you will add value. Conversely, you’re new team, in anticipation of your arrival, is riddled with dread and trepidation. Questions are filling the air. “Who is this new person?” “What kind of manager are they?” “What’s their working style?” “What are their expectations?” “Are they going to change everything?” “How is this going to affect me?”

And on Day 1 these two worlds collide. As soon as you get settled in, you’re ready for business and start pushing forward. There’s one problem. You make the unwitting assumption that your new team knows what you want and how you like to work. And this is where bad first impressions and misunderstandings flood a new relationship.

No one is at fault. We just aren’t trained on the importance of proactively communicating our management style. I’ve seen it as a coach and I’ve been guilty of it as a manager.

This is when a management playbook can come in handy.

  • It forces you to reflect and think about how you like to lead, manage and interact with your team
  • It eliminates the unknown (in this case you) and provides transparency for your team
  • It will dramatically shorten the “getting to know you” phase
  • It will demonstrate humanity by engaging with your team directly. This should be delivered in person and allow for discussion
  • It will set the tone for the culture you want to create
  • It will allow you to demonstrate impact quicker with fewer communication missteps and miscues

What should be included? Here are some suggest topics, however, it should represent what’s most important and relevant to you. There is no right or wrong content.

  • Communication: Do you prefer in-person, text, email or phone? Does it vary by situation? For example, in-person during the day but if it’s an emergency text. Do you expect an immediate response if you send an email during the weekend or is next business day appropriate?
  • Involvement in a project once initiated: Do you like regular updates or only at key milestones?
  • Mannerisms: Do prefer quick hallway chats or long sit down conversations?
  • Processing information: Are you more, cut to the chase or do you like background and history?
  • Feedback: Do you provide on-the-spot comments or at scheduled intervals? Are you open to feedback?
  • Flextime: What’s your point-of-view on working in the office vs. working remotely?
  • Team interactions: Are you more comfortable one-on-one or with groups?
  • Pet peeves: These can be the little things that just drive you crazy.

Your playbook should be no more than one or two pages and reflect your personality. I had a client who used a Top 10 format with great success. I have found the use of a playbook very beneficial for both the leader and the team. I developed one for myself to use when I work with a partner on a project.

This concept has also been referenced by The New York Times columnist Andrew Bryant, Want to Know Me? Just Read My User Manual

What would be in your playbook?