Leadership in an open book environment is unique. Normal functions of the leadership team become inevitably different. Financial reports and budgets become a series of teamwork initiatives. Staff meetings become opportunities for learning and dialogue. Your employees’ work becomes more exciting and not just a way to make a living.  How do leaders continue to lead and make an impact in this environment?

How to Lead in an Open Book Environment

  1. Know your Business and Share – Leaders must be able to transfer knowledge in an open book environment. The market will continue to demand informed decisions and flexibility – leaders must be passionate about sharing everything they know about their business. More importantly, leaders must know the fundamentals of the business inside and out so that they have something to share.
  2. Demonstrate the Value of Learning – In an open book management company leaders naturally demonstrate their knowledge of the business by asking questions and evolving daily around issues that arise. Opening the books means that problems are visible and variances against a plan can happen daily. Leaders in this environment can show their learning process to others by demonstrating the value of team thinking and a willingness to diagnose mistakes while soliciting feedback about their own skills. Only by demonstrating learning can they show others what it means to learn continually.
  3. Convey Meaning – The numbers alone are not enough. Especially in an open book environment, leaders must take the numbers and turn them into meaningful stories. The stories behind the numbers make the difference by conveying the meaning and the purpose of company goals and objectives.
  4. Develop other Leaders – In addition to better financial performance, the development of employees into “ownership thinkers” is a key indicator of successful open book management. Leadership in an open book environment is conducive to creating more leaders. Using feedback, accountability, and communication techniques will teach teams to grow and exercise leadership in making judgements and assessing results.
  5. Embrace your People – Having your employees manage the numbers with passion – striving to meet the plan or exceed it – is the core essence of open book leadership. This type of leadership combines the hard and soft sides of business into a culture of one process. The environment is used to teach, develop, coach, and motivate hard business objectives.
  6. Stay the Course – Employees want competent leaders that command respect and represent their company well. In open book management, leaders are also team members as they continue to work on growing the business. A leader is still a leader, it’s important to continue to lead while upholding the respect of your team.
  7. Manage While You Lead – While many leaders are good at being leaders, it’s also important to be good at managing. The struggle between leadership and management can be overwhelming so it’s vital to learn to do both. Being successful will require you to combine the best parts of both roles to advance people and hold them accountable to results.
  8. Create a Culture – The personality of your company is reflected in your culture. The work environment in an open book company encourages a strong sense of commitment and passion. This shows in daily activity and overall attitude of your employees. Value your environment and work to create a culture that is truly a representation of the overall core purpose of your organization.
  9. You Have Intuition – Use It – Fact-based decisions drive your company in an open book environment. Leaders know that numbers not only tell a story, but they provide the facts. In the world of business, numbers are often not fully exposed so leaders use their intuition to pick up the slack. In open book environments, the numbers are visual and presented as facts; however, a leader must know when not to use the numbers, when to flip between decision-making modes and explore assumptions in making critical decisions.
  10. Keep Looking for the Extraordinary – It’s easy to get complacent and routine. Keep pushing your teams to the extreme and strive for the extraordinary. Recognize accomplishments and create ways to make work exciting.

Open book management revitalizes companies, empowering them to reach levels of success that may have been missed in other management styles. Leadership is still important and as long as you maintain your desire to learn and evolve you will make a powerful impact in your organization.

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