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Being there - An Open Door Policy

This article explores the relevance and application of Principles and Strategies discussed in the 3rd Century BC treatise, Kautilya’s Arthashastra, in Today’s Corporate World.

The leader of an organisation has to be a very alert and vigilant person. He has to be aware of the wrong as well as manipulated information that can reach to him from various sources. In this matter he has to be most careful from his own ‘middle-men’.

Middle-men for senior management would be the junior managers and those who deal with the lower staff on a daily basis. These middle men report to the seniors all that happen at the lower end.

However, being totally dependent on the middle men can be dangerous. If one gets too dependent on them they can change reports, encourage corruption and also leak important data.

Therefore Kautilya, advices to have an open door policy right from the senior management to the junior most level in an organisation,

               “He (leader) should allow unrestricted entrance to those wishing to see him in connection with their affairs” (1.19.26)

Any person who wants to communicate to the seniors their affairs should be encouraged as it helps in bridging the gap of communication.

Unrestricted entrance means middle-men cannot restrict or control whom you meet and share information with. In various organisations one has to pass through the secretaries to get the work done. Secretaries are required to leverage your work. But the moment one becomes dependent on them and they start taking decisions concerning ‘people’ for you – be aware and watch out!

A few benefits of an open door policy are:


Many officials, especially the persons from sales and marketing departments directly deal in the market as well as with the outside world. They become the eyes and ears of the company. The senior management can keep a finger on the pulse of the market and competition through them.


When employees are assured that they are ‘listened’ to, they would not feel the need of external supporting agencies such as labour unions and political parties. Most of the external threats to organisations stem from ‘internal’ insecurities felt by their own people.


Important decisions do not get delayed when problems are fixed as they occur. Decisions taken at the right time avoid confusion and misunderstandings.


Subordinates begin to feel a deep emotional bond with the leader who makes a clear, usually by example, that he would be present in tight situations as well as to share good moments. The presence of such a leader builds a sense of security and faith in the team.

One of the basic human requirements is to have someone who can ‘listen’ to your problems. Effective leaders understand this psychological need. Therefore, successful leaders always communicate to their team, “Okay, I will be there whenever you have a problem”

Contributed by  - Radhakrishnan PIllai

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