The meeting concluded with a clear path forward. Our team had reached a consensus on the best solutions, given the constraints. Workloads were assigned, and we had our marching orders. But as we left, the principal called for the team lead to enter his office for a closed-door meeting. Ten minutes later, a new direction for the project was announced.

I later discovered that the principal preferred giving directions without engaging in open group discussions. This struck me as a sign of his lack of confidence in his work and unwillingness to hear the team’s input.

The junior team members simply shrugged and moved on to their new tasks. However, those of us responsible for managing parts of the project were left puzzled. We wondered if the principal realized the value of gathering opinions and fostering consensus, even if he still made the final decisions.

As an aspiring leader, you’ll face a choice every time you work with a group of people. Circumstances will require different approaches, but in an age of easy access to information and rapid movement, collaboration is key.

Moreover, it helps build people up and align them with your decision-making process. While closed doors may offer protection and a safe space for receiving feedback, why not make the conference room a safe place as well?

A leader’s actions should match their words, which makes me wonder about the rest of the organization. Though the principal may feel powerful making decisions one-on-one behind closed doors, there’s even more to gain by doing so openly and explaining the rationale to others.

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