The Power of Transparency

By Claire Louge

Early in my career, I subscribed to the ‘fake it ‘til you make it’ mindset. I thought that in order to prove my professional worth, I had to demonstrate perpetual competence. If I l didn't possess a skill, I needed to feign it until I actually figured it out. If I didn’t know what someone was talking about at a meeting, I had to sit there and nod, pretending that I did. I thought knowledgeability was what earned respect, and I didn’t want to be perceived as lacking it.

I know better now. 

Seven months ago, I was promoted to executive director of Prevent Child Abuse Arizona. There has been so much to learn. Some things I knew I needed to learn (like nonprofit finance processes), but some things I didn’t know I didn’t know, and I needed to learn those things too (leading an organization through a pandemic).

Through my time in this role so far, I’ve committed to being transparent with what I don’t know, and open with my learning process. If someone says an acronym I don’t recognize, I ask them to define it. If a person assumes I know something and is having a conversation with me about it, it’s unfair to them, and unproductive for us both, for me to fake understanding. I ask them to teach me.

It’s helped me learn a lot. Not faking it is helping me ‘make it.’

Keep in mind, how you ask for more information is key....