Is There Space for Open Communications?

John was the senior leader of a 400-person business group. His direct reports were managers with wide-ranging backgrounds, proven capabilities, life experiences, and diverse cultures.

The Leader’s Profile

As the ranking leader –

  • John took pride in his business experience and the depth of functional knowledge he brought to the table.
  • There were very few subjects he did not confidently share his expertise first, even after verbally inviting collaboration. 
  • When one dared to express a viewpoint, John dismissed or openly challenged it without any good faith consideration.
  • On the surface, personal preference, not objective analysis, appeared to motivate the action.
  • John had a way of turning simple conversations into debates, creating clouds of doubt in one’s abilities and confusion about the next steps.
  • Consequently, there was a tendency to give in to his views rather than prolong the agony of engaging in communications.
Do these John tendencies sound familiar?

A Leader’s Impact

Organizational scientist Sunnie Giles surveyed 195 leaders from 30+ global organizations (Harvard Business Review). The research suggested major themes of competencies that strong leaders exhibit, including those that promote open communications –

💫 “High ethical standards and providing a safe environment.”

💫 “Promoting a sense of connection and belonging.”

A leader’s behaviors can build bridges or erect walls.

Leaders who promote open communications are bridge builders. They establish a psychologically safe space where people can openly express their thoughts and ideas to the leader and one another. Individuals can freely share their perspectives, feedback, and suggestions – without fear of reprisal or ill-use of what they say. 

What Can a Leader Do

Here are three quick “know yourself” tips to enable creating an open communications environment –

📍Determine how much space you occupy in conversations – too much, too little, or spot on.

📍Explore any conscious or unconscious bias that could influence how you welcome others into discussions.

📍Demonstrate a genuine interest in others’ views – be curious and listen.

Speaking of listening, that’s another topic. But, of course, it’s easier said than done!

You Don’t Have to Go It Alone

I would welcome the opportunity to support you in establishing and sustaining an environment that promotes open communications.

Contact me for a complimentary consultation:

Reference: Giles, S. (2016). The most important competencies, according to leaders around the world. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved from

Lillian Davenport, SPHR, SHRM – SCP, CTACC, Principal, End View Solutions, LLC

Lillian Davenport

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Lillian Davenport is a coach, consultant, and leadership strategist. Her signature program, M3 LeadershipSM, prepares you to enhance and develop your self-awareness, embrace your inner strength, and lead with confidence, courage, and impact.

Lillian’s career as a human resources leader includes roles at JPMorgan Chase & Co., Woodforest National Bank, and American International Group, Inc. (AIG), where she leveraged employee relations, and diversity, equity, and inclusion expertise in leadership development.