Keeping your door open


I had the privilege of speaking to a seasoned leaders’ stakeholders recently in an effort to get their candid feedback about him. I was captivated by how many indicated that they appreciated his “open door”. As I listened to their stories and their feedback, I found they weren’t just referring to that thing that hangs on the wall between his office and whatever is outside of it.


Leaders who have an open door focus on having the kind of dialog and relationships with others that make people comfortable in their presence. They recognize that they are responsible for setting the tone. Not only is the door to their office open, they also have an:

Open heart with which to welcome and understand others. This means that conversations are easy and flowing, with the leader’s attention placed on others and an attitude of “Lets see what I can learn from this person” and “How might I understand their point of view on a deeper level?”

Open mind that is curious and non-judgmental. An open mind encourages others to say exactly what they need to say, and to bring forward new, and sometimes crazy ideas that just might have a grain of reality and truth to them. Leaders with an open mind tend to know the things that are important for their success (or detract from it) because others are willing to tell them.

Open eyes that help them to see clearly. Leaders with open minds don’t deceive themselves about their value or their power. They can clearly see how they impact their organizations and are always aware of how their presence influences others or shuts them out.

Open ears with which to listen deeply. The leaders with open ears listen beyond the words that are said; they are alert to nuances, including what is not said. They notice when it’s time to surface hidden elephants and when the attempt to do so isn’t worth it.

Keeping your door open requires your full presence, eye contact, and body language that says “I’m here, and I’m listening to you”. Think about it. Do you need to make the effort to open your door wider?


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Mary Jo Asmus is the founder and President of Aspire Collaborative Services LLC, an executive coach, writer, internationally recognized thought leader, and a consultant who partners with organizations of all kinds to develop and administer coaching programs. She has “walked in your shoes” as a former leader in a Fortune company.


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