A closed open door

Image for “A closed open door”, GoGetter Coaching

We expect a lot from people. It’s human nature. People don’t always behave in the way you think they should behave. However, as my mother says, even if they only do what you think they should do half the time, then that’s a good thing.

Have you noticed – all leaders are different. Some are welcoming, open, honest and authentic. Others are the opposite.

Some leaders call themselves inclusive and say they have an “open door policy”, and then they seal themselves into the deep recesses of their offices, with a gate-keeper or an army of them, in the outer office. This leaves visitors with no option but to navigate their way past the protective fortress of stalwart guards, often having to resort to lively or pleading conversations to get past. If such exchanges prove successful, all the previously displayed bristling protectiveness vanishes, replaced by welcoming smiles and an offer of coffee.

I encountered this when I called the school principal to relay a message about a playground bullying incident I witnessed at our local elementary school. The gatekeeper in question was a volunteer mom who was working the phones that day. When I asked for the principal, she asked me so many questions, I felt like an indicted felon in court. I hadn’t even relayed the incident!

I started making small talk and complimenting her sleuthing abilities, her velvety voice, her kindness for volunteering her time, and so on. The cross-examination ceased. Finally, she mellowed and said, “I’ll put you through to the Principal”. Hurrah! Pardoned for good behaviour!

Many leaders have such dragons minding their dens, in effect blocking out any intruders who might “waste the boss’s time”, thereby rendering both the “open door policy” and “inclusiveness” utterly meaningless. These same leaders proclaim that they are always approachable and have an open-door policy. Until one gets to the door.

Why they consider this dungeon-protection behaviour “open door”, is a mystery to me.

But there’s a way past the dragons, and not just when knocking on your boss’s office door. It happens when people put on a haughty air, are hard to reach, or say “don’t call me, I’ll call you”.

The trick is to remain unfailingly courteous and always employ the high road. The high road to a door that is either open or closed.

And if you’re a leader, a good practice is to practice having an open door policy where your door is open.

Humour me by emailing: bernadette@gogettercoaching.com .

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