Many business leaders and non-profit leaders say they want openness, sharing, and transparency in their organization, but are frustrated by the lack of it.
The traditional advice is perfectly appropriate: Model what you expect from others.
If you want people to share the problems and “bad news,” encourage them to share – and then publicly commend that behavior. If you want them to share progress reports, share status updates from your perspective. If you want them to be open about concerns, specifically solicit their comments and questions. Listen carefully and without judgment or dismissive comments.
I have additional simple advice: Go first.
Going first is one of the characteristics of leaders, isn’t it?
Try this as a practical exercise – put together a list of things people might not know about you, and share it. This makes it safe for others to share, as well. See my list below if you need some ideas.
10 Things You Might Not Know About Glenn Brooke
I share these because I believe that you can’t work well with people you don’t know. Though I share frequently, here are ten things relatively few people know about me.
- I need plenty of quiet time, alone. Some people might think I’m an extrovert, but actually I score right at the middle between extrovert and introvert. I enjoy being with people, but need a balancing amount of time alone.
- I strongly prefer to put my back next to a wall in a restaurant or public place.
- I can fall asleep in 1 minute, any time, almost anywhere. I have a hard time sitting still, in part because I just fall asleep. (I didn’t learn I have serious sleep apnea until I was 42.)
- One of my favorite snacks in high school was to mix sugar and Tang in a cup, and eat it with a spoon.
- Despite #4, I have never had a cavity. I was born with 11 extra teeth, but an oral surgeon removed them.
- In 5th grade I made a plan to win the Nobel Prize in Medicine for the discovery of the molecular basis for cellular differentiation. This dream pulled me through my research degrees and a post-doc, until I realized I would be at best a competent bench scientist and what I really loved was teaching.
- In college I was one part science geek (Biochemistry) and one part literature. I edited the college literary magazine, “The Case Reserve Review.” I had to screen some truly awful poetry in that job. Fortunately I could alternate this with my courses in differential equations and protein structure analysis.
- I’m not a foodie. I graciously try to eat what people put in front of me, but some foods just, ummm, no way.
- I’ve published 12 books and information products, and have plans for several more.
- I could sing soprano parts until I was 17. Yep, a very late “bloomer.” Those Bee Gees songs were no problem for me in the late 1970’s.