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  • hymansukiennik

Being Approachable

I just finished reading a fascinating book about the 1961 space race between the United States and the Soviet Union to put the first man into space. The book Beyond by Stephen Walker drills into the challenges that were being faced and overcome to achieve this goal first for national pride and more.

One anecdote that struck me was how the Russian project leader Korolev had to overcome the fear of making mistakes and the natural tendency to hide them in an authoritarian system. So much was new and had never been done before, but if you weren’t honest to the team, failure was inevitable. In this particular instance an engineer made a mistake that caused a fire and admitted it to Korolev even though the consequences could have been severe. Korolev made a point of giving the engineer on the project a gold watch in front of all of his co-workers. This totally changed the dynamic in that group to much success.

Over the years I would tell the leaders I worked with and coached that part of their job was being approachable. Folks on their teams needed to be comfortable in giving them bad news quickly so issues could be addressed and resolved.

I am curious now in this past year of the zoom meeting what steps people took in this virtual world to make themselves approachable, especially after the meeting ended. What was your virtual OPEN DOOR policy and how well did it work?

I would appreciate your comments either below or email to

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