Eyes on the Door
Open communication requires leaders to build trust by showing genuine care for their team as people, not just employees.
WRITTEN BY: ADAM DANYAL
Trust begins with openness, but an open door guarantees neither. Some leaders keep an open door policy yet remain closed off to what team members think and feel. Though the path seems clear, people tread lightly, if at all. What’s holding them back?
Like gazelles cautious of the watering hole, we instinctively scope out risk. Will concerns shared freely boomerang back later? Might plain truths turn the tides, making waves unwise? We guard our thoughts in a guarded space. Doubly so when mistrust already lurks.
Trust blooms not through invitation alone but with care. It starts with leaders asking about and advocating for the aims and needs of each member’s work. But it also means knowing who they are outside the conference room walls. Trust digs roots deeper when interest in a person’s life looks up from the tasks at hand.
This care and kindness fertilizes trust’s growth, yet the open door still needs a welcome mat. Leaders must initiate and engage first. Ask how one’s child is healing from injury. See how the big game turned out. Remember the vacation and check in after.
Once leaders connect with genuine care, team members gain the confidence to share unvarnished truth. Now the open door opens two ways. Leaders learn and see more while bonds strengthen for catching the team up on wins and pivoting from losses.
An open door guarantees no more than a drafty room. But a leader’s care transforms the doorway into a fireside, a place that warms hearts to build trust. This fuels plain truths and progress alike. Eyes on the door show faith in openness. It’s care that invites people in.
From our Leadership Bookshelf:
WRITTEN BY: JULIA DANYAL
Peter Bregman's book “Leading With Emotional Courage: How to Have Hard Conversations, Create Accountability, And Inspire Action On Your Most Important Work” aligns well with the message that open communication requires demonstrating care. Bregman provides advice on building trust and safety through courageous, compassionate leadership.
Get this book from Amazon
Be Vulnerable and Authentic: Effective leaders connect by admitting weaknesses and imperfections openly instead of projecting an image of invincibility. They share concerns, find common ground, and bring their human side to the role.
Practice Compassion: Compassionate leaders listen deeply to understand people's needs and struggles instead of just business requirements. They tune into emotional needs and get to know the humans behind the jobs.
Show You Care: Caring leaders stand up for their team and make people feel valued and appreciated. They build trust by having each person's back and making sure they feel supported.
Connect Personally: Connected leaders take time to learn about team members' lives outside of work. They ask thoughtful questions and build rapport as people first, not just employees.
Have Courage to Care: The most influential leaders have the courage to care about more than just profits or business outcomes. They support their team's overall health and wellbeing.
In summary, Bregman emphasizes that openness requires the courage to care openly and deeply about people. This builds the trust needed for meaningful two-way communication.