Providing directives from an unapproachable office may accomplish short term goals. It will not produce sustainable results, and will not develop thriving team members.
Learning to lead without walls demands asking, seeking, and knocking. These three skills will grow the leader to develop people on task, not merely task oriented people.
Ask a powerful question. What three words best describe how you feel about…? Powerful questions allow people to reflect and then respond. Leaders should be able to diagnose skill sets. Asking open-ended questions not only communicates concern. It also helps the leader better understand current skills and current motivation.
Seek win/win. Robert Winger’s book Winning through Intimidation describes what happens too frequently in the workplace. The most intimidated loses. I recently was interacting with a potential client who wants to change the culture in her organization. She has identified that her strong personality and work ethic have produced a healthy bottom-line. At the same time, she is concerned that some of her personnel keep a distance because they fear the do not measure up. She has discovered an intimidation factor that is keeping some personnel from developing. And she is willing to make significant changes in order to develop people. Win/lose is not acceptable to her. She is rightly seeking win/win.
Knock on doors. Good leaders keep an open door policy. Great leaders get out of their office and walk among their people. It is not enough for people to knock on your door. Your direct reports will develop faster as you go to where their work happens. And when you go, look to catch them doing something right. News that leadership is making the rounds travels rapidly. Knowing the leader is looking for positives build morale. Furthermore, team members take ownership of responsibilities and share ideas for improvement.
Leadership that seeks to understand and help people thrive by walking on common ground breaks down the walls between leaders and direct reports. What are you doing to break down the walls?