The Seventh Deadly Sin of Leadership: Keeping Your Door Always Open or Always Shut

In working with leaders today, two distinct trends have developed:

Do you find yourself doing your work before 8AM or after 6PM? Are you a leader whose door is always open?

As a leader you want people to feel they have access to you. You do not want your direct reports to feel that your work is more important than theirs. In the past you have worked for leaders who were always in a meeting or too busy to meet with you and you felt frustrated. You want your staff to be able to count on you when they need you.

One manager I worked with said, “My office is like a department store. The door is always revolving. As soon as one person leaves, another one comes in. Because my door is always open, I can’t get any work done. I don’t want to kick anyone out, so I tend to get to work earlier and earlier and stay later and later. My work life balance is out of balance, but I know my team appreciates my efforts.”

By being constantly available you are depriving your team of independent thinking and decision making. Have you asked yourself, “What is the worst thing that could happen if I limited my availability?

Do you ever feel like you are tied to your desk and can’t come up for air? You come to work, sit down, close your door and before you know it the work day is over and the only time you got up was to go the bathroom. You meant to get out of your office, walk around, talk to your staff, see the mood of your team, but instead you were holed up with the door closed. You are so busy that when you come in to the building, you immediately go to your office and close the door because you don’t want anyone to know you are there.

Your employees see you only when they come to your office and then they have to knock to get in. You think you will never get all your work done and can’t imagine taking the time to walk around and see what people are doing. You would like to join your staff for lunch, but you eat at your desk.

You know your staff is competent so you believe if there is a real issue, they will come to you.

Your employees want to see you and not just by appointment in your office!

Whether your door is always open or always shut, either extreme impairs your ability to get your work done and connect with your staff.

  • Here are some things to try to create a better balance:
  • Set specific time aside to have your door open and shut
  • Remember to get out of your office and see what is happening
  • Let your staff know when you are/are not available
  • Decide on an end time and try to stick to it

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