Buckley’s Open Door Policy

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Stephen Buckley, dean of faculty at the Poynter Institute, believes leadership is about relationships. Good leaders, he said, build healthy relationships with their associates and constantly work to maintain positive workplace dynamics.

Developing the harmonious balance between leader and follower can often be a challenge in today’s workplace. Busy schedules, heavy workload and the constant pressure to accomplish more in less time can pose a significant obstacle for any leader. So how do you cope? Buckley suggests leaders sit down and evaluate their priorities and then schedule time for others. Perhaps even more simply, just listen!


That type of open leadership style fosters a sense of teamwork and cooperation. It shows a mature compassion and understanding for the needs of others while allowing followers to address any concerns that may arise to receptive (or at least respectful) ears.

Buckley’s recommendation is unique – It is a community building leadership style that serves to boost morale. When individuals feel they can contact their leader directly, there is a much smaller chance for hostility or resentment to breed behind closed doors.

Do you think this type of “friendly” leadership style works? Does it empower employees and instill them with a sense of pride andrespect? Or is it dangerous to lead when you are too closely connected with your associates?

6 Comments on “Buckley’s Open Door Policy”

  1. Stimulating post Jessica!
    One can see threads in what Dean Buckley espouses and the management theories of Rensis Likert. See this linke http://www.business.com/guides/management-theory-of-rensis-likert-10989/

    Likert identified four management styles
    1. Exploitative-authoritative
    2. Benenvolent-authroritative
    3. Consultative
    4. Participative-Group

    Which one do you think Dean Buckley models?
    Which one of the four is most closely aligned with servant-leadership?

    Dr. Bill

  2. You have a good point here that I didn’t really consider when he was talking, “Or is it dangerous to lead when you are too closely connected with your associates?”

    I believe lending your ear to others is a great thing in work environments, much like listening gets the truth out in journalism! However, I’d hope that Buckley and other leaders strive to keep the listening and the talking on the topic of business. I believe you’d start to fall into holes with your work ethic and etc. when you start talking to others too personally about their lives outside of work.

  3. Great points. I think this type of leadership style is starting to filtrate the American business world. In my opinion, it’s a smart way of handling office issues and staying connected with your employees. Having an open door policy or office hours like Buckley has can alleviate issues of a power struggle and make the work environment easy-going. As Emily said, if the topic is mostly on business and doesn’t cross lines of becoming too personal, then it will be beneficial.

  4. You ask very thought provoking questions at the end of your post. To give my honest answer to if a “friendly” leadership style works, I would say this: it can but also it can’t. The beauty of leadership styles is that effective ones will be molded to fit the group that is being led. Learning who your “team” is and who is working underneath you is essential as an effective leader. When you understand how each cog fits in, then you can make a decision on how best to lead that group. In certain situations a very rigid leadership style may be necessary when other times a hands-off approach is exactly what is called for. Learning to adjust your leadership style is a trait I consider very valuable in great leaders.

  5. I think different people respond differently to certain styles of leadership — I can certainly see how a strong-willed person might take advantage of a “friendly” leader, for example. Personally, I’ve worked for bosses at both ends of the spectrum — exploitative-authoritative and participative-group (which is the category I believe Buckley falls under). I tend to be much more motivated by a leader who is willing to listen to me and work with me toward achieving goals than one who is overly critical and consistently detached.

  6. Insightful post. The ‘Just listen’ style of Dean Buckley works for him. Listening is crucial to helping those around you achieve their goals. And this is a goal Buckley has identified. I would say ‘yes’ it works. One reason, Buckley is a successful example of this leadership style and two, in order to help those around you succeed, you have to listen. Yes, it does empower employees, because if a leader is willing to take time out of their day to listen, that brings a sense of validation to the employee and offers encouragement.

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