Transparency: How Leaders Create a Culture of Candor


July 29, 2008


James O'Toole


Chairman, Business Ethics, Denver University


In today’s world, transparency-acting with candor, disclosure, integrity and honesty-is increasingly linked to both survival and success. Not only does transparency enhance individual and organizational performance, but it also has the potential to tap into previously unthinkable levels of collective wisdom. The technologies that have accelerated this change are here to stay, and as a result there will only be a further interest in transparency. How to become this kind of organization? What conspires, inside an organization, against a “culture of candor”? Why is the containment of information the dearest held value for so many leaders and companies? Three thought leaders in the business world: Warren Bennis, Daniel Goleman and James O’Toole have worked together to create practical ways for organizations to achieve openness and create internal structures that lead to the free flow of ideas.


James O'Toole

James O’Toole received his Doctorate in Social Anthropology from Oxford University, where he was a Rhodes Scholar. He served as a Special Assistant to the Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare and was Director of Field Investigations for President Nixon’s Commission on Campus Unrest. He won a Mitchell Prize for a paper on economic growth policy, has served on the Board of Editors of the Encyclopaedia Britannica and was editor of The American Oxonian Magazine. He has been the editor of New Management magazine and Director of the Twenty Year Forecast Project (where he interpreted social, political, and economic change for the top management of thirty of the largest US populations. From 1994-97 O’Toole was Executive Vice President of the Aspen Institute, and is the author of over 70 journal articles and 14 books, including Leading Change and The Executive’s Compass.