Radical Transparency

Radical Transparency

Living The Trust Paradox: Safety – Risk connection© creates higher levels of trust. One powerful action for generating safety to increase trust levels is acting with “Radical Transparency.”

Radical Transparency, is acknowledging and then apologizing for thoughts of judgment, or feelings of envy, fear and jealously that are in our head. This is radical, in that we are apologizing for the judgments, fears and hurtful feelings which we often keep to ourselves and carry with us. Such an act generates significant safety and risk, The Trust Paradox©.

An example of radical transparency would be: “Bob, I want to apologize for thinking you are a coward and narcissistic. I admit I have my own cowardice and narcissistic thoughts too, and want to apologize for thinking this about you. Please forgive me.” I recently shared this with someone (their name is not “Bob”) and we have a deeper clarity of each other’s experience. Our connection has increased significantly and there is more trust and respect because of my sharing.

Applying radical transparency in business raises a couple of questions:

  • “What if the other person uses this openness and vulnerability against me?”
  • “What are the HR implications if I apply radical transparency with my direct reports?”


My experience has been when I apologize for judgments or hurtful feelings I have about others and asked for their forgiveness, the other person rarely takes advantage of the vulnerability I place myself in. My action often creates the safety for the other person to open up and share their own “truer-truest” experience with me. Our connection strengthens greatly through this deeper clarity of thoughts and feelings between us. Trust increases, and subsequent business actions carry greater lightness to them.

With regards to applying radical transparency with direct reports, I encourage extra care to ensure the other person does not feel shame. Ask yourself: “Am I secretly trying to shame the other person, or, am I truly wanting to bring my own hidden thoughts and feelings to the light so they can be transformed?” 

When you are clear you are applying radical transparency to bring light to your own thoughts and feelings, have the courage to go ahead and demonstrate radical transparency in your business relationships. I believe you will be pleasantly surprised by the results.



Michael is a business consultant who provides people development and change initiatives across Canada, while also assisting organizations in the US and Australia. In witnessing as a senior leader, a large highly successful company stumble and fall through an absence of trust, he committed himself to supporting organizations create a different outcome. Michael as a leader demonstrated the miss-steps he witnessed beforehand; appearing invulnerable, withholding thoughts and feelings, story-making, and reactivity. Recognizing this in himself, he increased his personal development efforts and continually re-commits to his purpose: “to create trust in the world, through demonstrating courage and kindness to myself and others, in every interaction.” Having recently completed a Masters degree in Leadership & Organisation Development in Seattle, US (Leadership Institute of Seattle, (LIOS)) Michael compliments his business experience with academic study in the methodologies for successful organizational change and people development. He is currently studying Lean process improvement and works his spiritual practice for “development at depth”.