It's Okay to Close Your Door

It's Okay to Close Your Door

By Sylva Leduc, MEd, MPEC, BCC

Image courtesy of Salvatore Vuono at

Over the years, having an open door policy has been embraced by many leaders. Yet, when I suggest that my crazy-busy clients occasionally close their door to "have a meeting with yourself," my request is met with utter disbelief!

The reaction usually comes from leaders who are so people-oriented that they feel guilty if they are not perpetually available.

One leader I coached was struggling with an ever increasing volume of work, i.e., a constant stream of e-mails, phone calls, meetings, and impromptu "got a minute?" drop-ins. When we first started working together, his answer to time management was to stay late and work long after everyone else had gone home.

So what was happening?

Those were the only times when he thought he could slow down and focus on what really needed to be done since he spent most of his days solving problems his direct reports could handle if given the latitude. After several coaching conversations, in which we talked about how he could pause to reflect on what was most important to accomplish, we began to see a shift.

One of his strategies was to post a 30-day calendar on his door showing both drop-in times and scheduled meetings for the week (including his own weekly 60-minute meeting for reflection and strategizing). For that meeting, instead of identifying it as "meeting with myself," the time became his “meeting with my coach” as he shifted to self-coaching. Then he instructed his assistant to guard that time each week and not let anyone book over it.

For those meetings, he closed his door.

Guess what? It worked! Within a short period of time, he was accomplishing more, going home earlier, and he even had time to reengage in some of his favorite hobbies. As an added bonus, he was relieved to find that his team began solving problems rather than depending upon him to be the hero.

Coaching Tip: At the end of each week, close your own door and spend 30-60 minutes reviewing what was accomplished that week and then reflect on what's most important to achieve next week.

About the Author

Sylva Leduc, MED, MPEC, BCCSylva Leduc is a sought after Leadership Strategist, executive coach, seasoned facilitator, speaker and published author. She has received the ICF's Prism Award (twice) for her Executive Coaching. Sylva’s coaching certification is from the College of Executive Coaching, where she is also a faculty member, teaches a variety of courses and mentors new coaches.

Her company, Sage Leadership Strategies, focuses on executive coaching, 360 feedback, onboarding, developing emerging leaders, team programs, retreat facilitation and strategic planning.

Sylva is President of the ICF Phoenix Chapter for 2013.

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