Episode 3 – How Transparent Should Creative Leaders Be?

Today we talk about how transparent creative leaders should be in their art and public discourse. From the damaging effects of not sharing enough and risking the dreaded “elitist” title, to the dangers of over-sharing, knowing what to say, to whom, and how much is an art in and of itself. Mike Kim and I discuss this and more in this week’s episode of Creativecast.


This one’s a doozie, people! Today, we’re talking about transparency.

Sean asks:

How vulnerable should church leaders be on social media, especially concerning doubt, art and responding to recent events in the media?

Here’s the hilarious video that Mike mentions during his Valentine’s Days monologue.

We humans are strange creatures. We want our leaders to be perfect, but then we hate to love watching our heroes fall. If they don’t share enough, they’re elitist, and if they share too much, they’re a disappointment.

TWEETABLE: Pursuing God is a whole lot less like math and a whole lot more like art. [Tweet this!]

TWEETABLE: Silence can’t be misquoted. [Tweet this!]

TWEETABLE: Don’t go to war when there aren’t any spoils for you. [Tweet this!]

Recent examples: President Obama not visiting France in January; the greater evangelical world not speaking up about Ferguson, Missouri.


Our level of transparency is dictated by our audience (who), our objectives (what), and our motives (why).

Lie: “We’re all supposed to be totally transparent. If we’re not, we’re just fakes.”

What a load of crap! If this is anyone’s attitude, they’re never lead anyone, nor do they legitimately care for anyone. And if this is your attitude, and you do care for people, then you’re not living by love.

Filters: We all use filters; no one’s 100% transparent. We’re constantly making judgement calls about what to share and what not to share, and who we’re sharing with.

Sharing too much / too little: Some leaders don’t share enough and risk creating cultures that are unrealistic, alienating people who don’t understand why they’re encountering things that their leaders aren’t.

Helpful Message: TD Jakes’s “The Weight of Glory” – pastors, equipping them, bc he wants them to better handle the unexplained pressures that they’re facing. [WATCH]

Leaders must present things in such a way that we honor who our audience is, what our objectives are, and being true to the motives of why we want to share what we’re sharing.

Christopher’s “Letter to Ferguson.” [READ]

Tip: Assess your digital trail by looking back at your last 30 posts on social media. What are people going to say about you when they read your digital trail? Be intentional with what you share.

Seth Godin’s article, You Are What You Share. [READ]

PETA ALERT: *Evangeline loves cats today.*

TWEETABLE: All of us are leading somebody. [Tweet this!]

Christopher’s Pastor, Kirk Gilchrist: Very honest with the pressures he faces publicly, yet doesn’t betray the trust of those people he’s carrying the weight of, nor the trust of his audience to shows he’d betray their secrets if he knew them. This cultivates a healthy transparency (talk about how to achieve shortly).

TWEETABLE: Transparency doesn’t equal the right to complain. [Tweet this!]

Jesus’ Example: Jesus, as a leader, professed his darkest day, and then waited for resurrection as a response.

“If there be another way…”

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

In the end, we’re all leaders, and we all abide by what I call the Familiarity/Transparency Curve. The deeper the familiarity, the more transparent we can be. Creating healthy transparency means you’re properly managing your level of transparency with the death of familiarity.

Familiarity Transparency Curve Creativecast

Relationships: Wife, children, best friend, close friends, acquaintances, strangers, invisible public.

TWEETABLE: Every good relationship is based on trust. [Tweet this!]

Breaking the familiarity/transparency curve: When we share more transparently than our level of familiarity allows, we can cause damage in the relationship. We become overly familiar with our audience. We have not earned the right to present that kind of information yet. And they have not earned our trust enough to prove that they can steward it.

TWEETABLE: The key is to share enough that the journey is recognizable, but not so much that my personal journey becomes a distraction. [Tweet this!]

There’s a reason we don’t know all the details of what Jesus personally endured, but we do know he endured enough that we can identify with his sufferings.

TWEETABLE: Did Jesus pick his nose? [Tweet this!]


Art has a valuable role of unspoken expression that leaders must utilize to speak to the culture of their day. They don’t necessarily need to create art themselves, but they can serve those they’re leading by referencing it.

Prima Ballerina Isadora Duncan was once asked by an audience member, “Can you explain what your dance meant?”

“No, I can’t explain the dance to you. If I could say it, I wouldn’t have to dance it.”

[Tweet this!]

“All good art has a way of emoting powerfully while guarding discretely.”

TWEETABLE: Good art never truly betrays the people it’s portraying. [Tweet this!]

TWEETABLE: Good art is never so much about the subject as it is about the viewer. [Tweet this!]

“There are always two people in every picture: the photographer and the viewer.”
-Ansel Adams

TWEETABLE: Art is better when it communicates emotionally and not analytically. [Tweet this!]

Paintings, music, dance, poetry, staging, film, clothing, photography, novels: Good leaders need to be well versed in or at least cognizant of art and culture, as these artistic expressions can serve the purpose of bringing people forward through their own hardships.

Q: Where have you made mistakes at either being overly transparent or not transparent enough?