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Transparency: How Leaders Create a Culture of Candor (J-B Warren Bennis Series) [Kindle Edition]

Warren Bennis , Daniel Goleman , James O'Toole , Patricia Ward Biederman
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)

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Book Description

In Transparency, the authors–a powerhouse trio in the field of leadership–look at what conspires against "a culture of candor" in organizations to create disastrous results, and suggest ways that leaders can achieve healthy and honest openness. They explore the lightning-rod concept of "transparency"–which has fast become the buzzword not only in business and corporate settings but in government and the social sector as well.

Together Bennis, Goleman, and O'Toole explore why the containment of truth is the dearest held value of far too many organizations and suggest practical ways that organizations, their leaders, their members, and their boards can achieve openness. After years of dedicating themselves to research and theory, at first separately, and now jointly, these three leadership giants reveal the multifaceted importance of candor and show what promotes transparency and what hinders it. They describe how leaders often stymie the flow of information and the structural impediments that keep information from getting where it needs to go. This vital resource is written for any organization–business, government, and nonprofit–that must achieve a culture of candor, truth, and transparency.

Editorial Reviews


"...would not be out of place in the executive reading room." (Edge, October 2008)

From the Inside Flap


In a time when the reputation of an organization or a leader can be shattered by the click of a mouse, transparency is often a matter of survival in a world of global competition. But as stakeholders in different organizations increasingly clamor for transparency, what are they truly asking for? What is the promise of transparency? What are its very real risks? And why is it essential that leaders understand it? In this book, distinguished authors Warren Bennis, Daniel Goleman, and James O'Toole explore what it means to be a transparent leader, create a transparent organization, and live in an ever more transparent world culture.

In three interconnected essays, they examine transparency from three different vantage points—within and between organizations, in terms of personal responsibility, and finally, in the context of the new digital reality—all with an emphasis on how these relate to leaders and leadership. The first essay explores an urgent dilemma for every contemporary leader: how to create a culture of candor. The second essay—with the provocative title "Speaking Truth to Power"—discusses a prerequisite for transparency and a responsibility we too often fail to fulfill. The final essay explores how digital technology is making the entire world more transparent.

Combining theory and experience, this book offers both a long view of transparency and a wealth of practical advice. The ideas in each chapter will make anyone both a better follower and a better leader.

Product Details

  • File Size: 268 KB
  • Print Length: 145 pages
  • Publisher: Jossey-Bass; 1 edition (May 18, 2009)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0018QUCW6
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #752,444 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
29 of 34 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A disappointing book of little value June 16, 2009
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I am rarely disappointed with a book as much as I was with Transparency: How Leaders Create a Culture of Candor. This short book is a series of three essays that might be well described as philosophical meanderings about the virtues of being truthful, honest, and open in dealing with others. It offers little in the way of insight, and even less in terms of wisdom. We learn, for example, how the internet makes it more difficult for governments, as well as political and business leaders to keep secrets (!). The book also has a heavy political bias, which is neither informative nor persuasive.

For example, readers are given numerous examples of how republicans are not open and forthright in their dealings with the public, but democrats generally are honest and reliable. Oh, please! Such is the extent of the authors' scholarly work. For example, readers are treated to a story about how the Board of Directors of Hollinger International spent $8 million to purchase papers relating to Franklin D. Roosevelt; this was indeed a very questionable transaction of dubious value to Hollinger's shareholders. But only one board member is identified by the author, and is singled out for his failures: Henry Kissinger, a stalwart Republican.

Other examples of political bias abound: Ronald Reagan, George Bush, and Donald Rumsfeld are also harshly criticized in the first essay, along with Henry Kissinger and the CIA, while Bill Clinton is praised for his open leadership style. The source notes in the back of the book are also somewhat revealing. The most frequently cited source is The New York Times, not exactly a bastion of conservative thinking.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
This book takes on the difficult task of explaining the links between the reality- truth of a situation, cohesiveness of a group to accept truth, the abilities of leadership to embrace candor, and the perceptions of followers to create a culture of trust. A well researched book and a good read for indicating how the culture of being open in a group must be created and maintained. After all, trust and truth are the building tools in any relationship.

To that aim, the writers attempt to explain how in a mini-second that a conflict of differing views arises either from within or outside the leader-follower structure, must be dealt with promptly. It outlines as a test of leadership why and how certain strategies and tools should be considered. Lying, denying to confessing are some options leaders have used in the past. But how should one as a leader deal with the unvarnished truth is the question? Above all, the emotional feeling of trust must be maintained or the leader-follower relationship is damaged.

This book gives examples how leaders (in business, and in government) need to create a culture of candor amongst their followers. The old saw that good and honest managers are the last to know when there is a serious problem, is regrettably too accurate. Yet, the bad managers or deniers of the truth are the first to know as they often created the problem. When humans make an error, the key personal questions of ethics and integrity facing all members in a group are... should they tell others about it or cover it up? Why should they?... as generally there are no emotional or financial guerdons in telling the truth. Unfortunately most culture in organizations allow the creators of a problem either to deny it existence or to downplay its importance.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Technologies change. Human nature doesn't." June 24, 2008
Warren Bennis, Daniel Goleman, and James O'Toole are three of the most influential business thinkers in recent years and, with Patricia Ward Biederman, collaborated on this book that consists of three separate but related essays: "Creating a Culture of Candor" (Bennis, Goleman, and Biederman examine transparency with and between organizations), "Speaking Truth to Power" (O'Toole shares his perspectives on transparency in terms of personal responsibility), and "The New Transparency" (Bennis explains how digital technology is making the entire world transparent). According to Thomas Friedman, the world has become flat as a result of forces that "are empowering more and more individuals today to reach farther, faster, deeper, and cheaper than ever before, and that is equalizing power - and equalizing opportunity, by giving so many more people the tools to connect, compete, and collaborate." Bennis, Goleman, O'Toole and Biederman agree. The first essay suggests how the same "flattening forces" to which Friedman refers also have a profound impact on relationships between and among organizations throughout the world. In the second essay, O'Toole eloquently as well as convincingly stresses the importance of responsibility and (yes) accountability of everyone who is involved in those relationships. Then in the third essay, Bennis shares his insights concerning the most significant consequences of technology, given the fact that "leaders are losing their monopoly on power, and this has positive impacts - notably the democratization of power - as well as some negative ones."

In the Preface, Bennis notes that this book really isn't about technology. "It is about the things that have mattered since the new technology was the flint and the longbow - courage, integrity, candor, responsibility.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
purchaed it for class and will keep it
Published 3 months ago by buyer
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Needed for my dissertation. Worthwhile read.
Published 7 months ago by E. Baker
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding and insightful overview of contemporary transparency.
Transparency: How Leaders Create a Culture of Candor is a compilation of three essays from organizational behavior and management luminaries musing on the advantages and... Read more
Published on July 1, 2011 by Brittany Turner
4.0 out of 5 stars Quick Read With Helpful, Illustrative Business Stories
The many instructive, illustrative business stories remain the highlight of this book for me. O'Toole's section on 'Speaking Truth To Power' , while difficult to put in practice... Read more
Published on May 29, 2011 by Bill Wiersma
3.0 out of 5 stars Good Book
Interesting views. Definately would love to see some of these ideas work in the real world.
Published on June 7, 2010 by Jeremiah R. Siebert
5.0 out of 5 stars Creating a Culture of Transparency is Difficult
I found Bennis et al.'s book to be extremely useful in identifying and disucssing why creating or changing an organization's culture to one of transparency is necessary. Read more
Published on February 24, 2010 by P. Duncan
1.0 out of 5 stars no Kindle version
I won't be buying this either, due to a lack of a Kindle version. I will likely scan it at the library if I happen upon it again. Read more
Published on June 29, 2009 by Principal
1.0 out of 5 stars A few disconnected, wandering essays
' Was humored by the jargon, adages, maxims and quips, for example some generic "none of us is as smart as all of us", "imperial nakedness", "old saw", and some... Read more
Published on May 21, 2009 by Joe
5.0 out of 5 stars Insightful collection of essays about business transparency
At 144 pages, you could finish this slim volume in an evening. Its three, smoothly written essays combine to make an engaging book. Read more
Published on February 19, 2009 by Rolf Dobelli
5.0 out of 5 stars Transparency is now the rule in business
The core concept of the book titled Transparency can be summed up in a quote by Rev. Martin Luther King who once said, "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things... Read more
Published on January 30, 2009 by Rebecca Clement
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