Treat middle management like strawberries – Transparency

Part 1 of this series of posts on leadership development illustrated how more and more of today's leaders are neglecting to develop their next tier of managers and thus failing in one of their primary duties to their organization. Part 2 touched on how we can avoid this problem altogether: in short, treat that next tier of managers like strawberries, not mushrooms.

Now we look at the first of a few examples for how we can treat middle management like strawberries.


Sam Walton, founder of the American retailer Wal-Mart, espoused a list of what he considered to be the ten most important rules for business success. Recapped by Jim Thomason here, a common theme throughout the list is that of transparency. For example:

Rule 2: Share your profits with your associates, and treat them as partners.

Rule 4: Communicate everything you possibly can to your partners.

Rule 7: Listen to everyone in your company.

A couple of things to note about these rules.

  1. This transparency isn't just a one-way road from the top of the organization to the bottom. Rule 7 illustrates that it's just as important for a company to be transparent from the bottom up, so that everyone in the business can be heard.
  2. Thomason notes that Walton "uses 'associates' and 'partners' as interchangeable terms for his employees and vendors. That was his genius; that he felt everyone who worked for him or supplied to him was his equal and an expert from whom he could learn."

In creating a fully transparent company, with open avenues of communication both up and down the corporate ladder, Walton created a culture of inclusion, in which management felt as though they were a trusted and valued part of the business. And who can argue with the results: today Wal-Mart stands as the world's third largest corporation!

Can you think of other examples of companies that have employed transparency to such good results?

Please share your thoughts in the comments section of this post.

Posted: 11/19/2009 10:09:56 AM by Andy Klein | with 0 comments
Filed under: leadership, management, managers, transparency
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