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Leadership Spotlight: Building Transparency and Trust in Leadership

Hi, and a warm welcome to The Human Side of Business Podcast. I’m your host Ange MacCabe. I have the pleasure of introducing you to Jeff Kelly, CEO of The Flower Cart Group, about Transparency and Trust in leadership.

Jeff dives into the challenges of leading a firmly established team and how he took a people-centric approach to leadership when integrating with his team as their new leader.

Building Trust Through Team Collaboration

Jeff Kelly: Full transparency. We know each other, so, you know, I'm not a very confrontational person and certainly not intimidating as a boss.. So I think that's one of the things I learned. I don't see that as a weakness. I see that as a strength. If you play it as a strength.

Ange MacCabe: Very much so, because I hear you in the sense that you're utilizing that from a place of authenticity. Like you're using that from a place of what I call positive vulnerability. Right. So you're saying, hey, I have a thought that I really want to put out here. You're my subject matter expertise. Let's solve this problem. This together, essentially, is what I'm hearing. And based on that transparency and that continued effort that you put in over time, Jeff, what I'm hearing is you build strong trust across the team, especially your management group.

Learning How to Be Vulnerable As a Leader

Jeff Kelly: When I took over here, I was in my early forties and it was my first overall senior leadership role. I had leadership positions in other organizations, but I as the director at the time needed to do a check on my own energy and enthusiasm, which is crucial, but at the same time, that ability to understand when it's appropriate to overshare or when you do overshare - maybe that was not such a great idea. Right?

Looking to Your Team for Their Expertise

Jeff Kelly: Early days, an opportunity came up with a local business not too far from us. And I wanted to work towards training, experiences being compensated, participants to be compensated. And I basically said, Guys, we're going to do this. We're going to do this. Let's make it happen. Let's put ideas out on the table. And to the credit of my team at the time, I think it was well understood that this was a line in the sand for me. I wasn't going to back down from this.. But at the same time, I was looking at them saying, you guys are the experts in delivering this, how we can make this work. And they rose to the occasion.

Staying People-centered With an Open Door Policy

Ange MacCabe: There's a lot that you've said that is piquing my interest. So I really like your approach to getting to know me. Integration. So there's still boundaries, right? Because oftentimes what you hear from leaders is, yes, I always have an open door policy. And that can be disheartening to some employees when they see that your door is closed half the time. Right. Because the realistic approach of things is that you do have to close your door sometimes to have confidential conversations, just to have some space to focus as well as continue to lead the organization. So really appreciating your thought process. Hey, when my door is open, please come in. Get to know me, interrupt me. That is an authentic approach to transparency, which I'm sure helped you along the way with trust.

What is Transparency?

Jeff Kelly: Being transparent means you have to come from a place of vulnerability. Because for me, being transparent means being open to hear both support and criticism. I'm talking about it in the context of new ideas and new directions and change essentially in a change management environment which I still find myself in.

For more leadership insights check out my blog: 5 Questions to Ask Yourself to Become a Better Leader


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