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3 Ways to Be a More Open Leader

Charlene Li, author of Open Leadership, argues that leaders must understand the fact that personal lives have become much more open, and social interaction is creeping into the business world.

Because business has become more social, a leader's management style is amplified throughout the organization. A good leadership style, when leveraged correctly in a social workforce,  can give you tools to extend your impact on your organization; however, when a bad leader is introduced into a social workplace, his or her effect on employee morale and engagement can be more significant than it has been in the past.

Open Leadership, as described by Li, can be boiled down to authenticity. As a manager, you must focus on developing relationships of trust and mutual respect with those around you. By motivating your team with collaborative and constructive goals in mind, you create a culture focused on the organization, and not the person. Further, you foster creative problem solving and increased employee engagement.

Three Components of an Open Leader:

Becoming a more open leader is easier than you think. By making a few tweaks to your leadership style, you can see high returns for your organization.

1. Take time to listen.  It will become important for you to balance your own duties with supporting your team and being available to help them solve problems or understand goals. An open manager will find ways to be available, both on a regular and on a spontaneous basis, to make time for those who need to share ideas and frustrations. 

2. Take time to understand. There is a difference between listening and active listening. When you are with your team, focus on what's being said to you and ask questions to ensure that you understand where your employees are coming from. Too often, managers become defensive and correct what employees are saying or offer excuses for their frustrations. Your team members need to know you have “heard” them, and that you understand what is on their minds.

3.Take action for your employees. Your team members will appreciate that fact that you spend time listening to them. However, they will quit talking to you, quit trusting you, and lose respect for you if you don’t take action on the things they share with you in a way that makes it clear that you care about their needs and you want to help. By practicing open leadership, you put yourself into their shoes, and promise to promote the best outcomes for them and for your organization as a whole.

Want to hear more from Charlene Li’s discussion of an open leader? Check out her Ted Talk.

May 11, 2016

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