Quin Weidner

This was written in response to the Quora question: How transparent should a company who wants to adopt an OKR goal-setting system be when it comes to a traditionally negatively perceived business direction (e.g. cost-cutting, downsizing)?


Joel Trammel argues in his book, The CEO Tightrope[1] that on of the 3 most important qualities of a CEO is Credibility.

“Having people believe what you say when you say it. Even one slip-up here can kill your credibility. In addition to simply telling the truth, credibility involves showing your authenticity and being transparent about the business”. Being transparent about a company’s shortcomings is vital to a CEO’s demonstration of credibility.

How it affects employees:

David Rock in his SCARF model recognizes Status and Certainty as the two most important factors in causing a threat or reward response among employees. You can minimize both a threat to status and uncertainty “by establishing consistent operational and leadership procedures”, “and, by giving employees access to as much information about the business as possible”.

Khorus (a leading company helping CEOs deliver predictable performance) writes “The best leaders understand that “transparency” isn’t just a buzzword. As corporate structures evolve and the world speeds up, internal information-sharing and visibility isn’t nice to have. It’s required.” They wrote an entire article on their method of “Two Way Transparency”.

How it affects your board:

Your board must count on you. Running a company demands optimism, but don’t overdo it.[2]

“If you’re misleading people about the true state of the company, even in subtle ways, you stand to lose a lot of credibility once the façade inevitably shows cracks. Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner, coauthors of The Leadership Challenge, conducted research showing that Americans rated honesty as the most important attribute they seek in leaders—before “inspiring” or “competent.” The implication is that it’s preferable to not get people pumped up than it is to be caught lying to them about the company’s progress.”

Khorus builds software to help you make your strategic plan transparent to all. The CEO sets top-level strategic objectives—then people and teams set their own supporting goals. Employees and investors alike are able to see for themselves how well the company is moving towards its goals.


[1] The CEO Tightrope: How to Master the Balancing Act of a Successful CEO: Joel Trammell: 9781626341067: Amazon.com: Books

[2] The CEO Role Demands Optimism—But Don’t Overdo It