Being Open

Everyone hears about a company’s open door policy, it’s the one that says “you can talk to us about anything”. We all know that’s not true, I mean really as leaders do we really want to hear what someone thinks is wrong with our company?  Of course not!  So saying that you have an open door policy is really just a way to make it sound like you are open to suggestions

I don’t think I’ve ever worked for a company where I felt comfortable walking into the boss to say this is wrong!  However, what if we as leaders were open to hearing things that might be wrong?

Working with horses you have to be relaxed. They can read your body language like nobody’s business and if you are tense they are going to assume that something is going to kill them.  You see horses are prey animals so literally the entire world is going to kill them! I am not joking ask anyone with a horse and they will tell  you that at some point in time a leaf was going to kill their horse! (or so the horse thought)

So when I go to work with the horses I have to tell myself to relax.  I have to take deep breaths and calm myself down.  If I don’t I am either going to end up on the ground or at the very least with a horse who really doesn’t trust me because if I am not calm then something is wrong!

So as leaders we have to do the same thing.  We have to calm ourselves down, we have to open up and listen and if we can’t then we need to be honest with our teams about that!  When someone comes to us to talk and we are in a place where we can’t honestly listen and take it in, we have to tell the person that.  We need to say, “I am not in a place to have this talk because my day has been really stressful and I want to hear what you are saying” then ask if you can reschedule.

When you do reschedule make sure you are prepared.  Take a walk, take deep breaths and be ready to hear what the person is saying. You don’t have to fix the issue, you might not be able to, but you have to listen and you have to be open!  If we are going to say we have open door policies then we need to be really be open to hear!

This doesn’t mean you have to make the changes suggested, but you do have to listen (ACTIVELY) and ask questions and get information and even go back and ask for more clarification if you aren’t sure.  If it’s something that you can control and can change and it’s good for the organization then change it!  If not then be honest with the person.  Let them know the idea was good or not and why you couldn’t implement it now.  Even asking them if they have ways to modify it to fit the organization.

You see being a leader isn’t about tell people what to do, or how to do it, it’s about listening to how others want to get it done!

Speaking the Truth


As leaders it is our job to give feedback and when that feedback can be negative we often choose silence instead of the truth.  This can actually get us into trouble.  If we have a situation that really requires honesty we must provide it.  HOWEVER!  That also means that we think about our words before they are spoken.

I had a member of a volunteer team that just wasn’t getting it.  It was a husband and wife team and they just didn’t see the mission, or at least I didn’t think they did.  So I spoke with my boss and he suggested I ask them to step down.  So I did, I fired them. The issue is that I didn’t really tell them WHY they were being asked to step down.

I didn’t take the time to think about what they were or were not doing that wasn’t moving the mission forward.  If I had taken the time I may have realized that they were simply in the wrong role.  You see my inability to be quiet for a moment really ruined a friendship and caused 2 people to move to another church.

Speaking honestly is difficult and must be thought about very extensively! You see while we may know the words need to be spoken the way they are said can cause extensive damage.  Understanding that can really help us grow as leaders.

If I had taken time to think about the issues and how we could get past them I may have stopped 2 people from being told they were bad and couldn’t serve.

Thankfully I have learned ALOT since that day and I have learned how to speak honestly with team members and ensured that when these conversations have to happen they go as smoothly as possible.

Talking with a trusted advisor will help as will thinking about the issue, what the problem is and how you hope to resolve it.

Good Luck Conflict is never easy!  However you can get through it!