Are you an approachable leader? You may think so, but others may have reservations about coming to you with their issues and ideas.
A two-year research study by Megan Reitz, a professor at Hultz International Business School, and John Higgin, author of The Change Doctors, shed light on what might be your blind spot: “We simply don’t appreciate how risky it can feel for others to speak up.”
Reitz and Higgin note that the phrase “My door is always open” is itself a mixed message. “It contains a number of assumptions. First, people should meet you on your territory, rather than the other way around. Second, you have the luxury of a door. Third, you can choose when to close or open it.”
Leaders who really want to encourage others to speak openly to them might want to keep Reitz and Higgin’s suggestions in mind:
· Cultivate humility as you move up the ladder;
· Listen to counterarguments with interest and attentiveness (Tweet it!);
· Recognize how office politics and agendas might inform what some people say;
· Be aware of how others might label you and how you might label them – note how these labels might skew communication,
· Consider specifics you can use to enable others to speak to you, e.g. dress more casually, or notice your opinion to question ratio.
The key to employing these suggestions is self-awareness. “If you are wondering why others aren’t speaking up more, first ask yourself how you might be inadvertently silencing them.”
What do you do to make it easy for others to speak openly to you? How could you improve? To join the conversation, click "comments" below on our Communication Capsule Blog.
If you would like to read more about creating a habit around masterful communication, check out our book: Be Quiet, Be Heard: The Paradox of Persuasion