BANGKOK — When Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus assumed the top leadership role at the World Health Organization last year, he immediately instituted an “open hour” every Thursday, inviting staff of any level to sign up for a 15-minute face-to-face meeting.
In early 2017, after taking on the role of Catholic Relief Services chief executive officer overseeing 5,400 staff around the world, Sean Callahan relocated his own desk from the usual president’s office to a more modest room next door.
The former president’s office is now a conference room for all staff — a symbol of good stewardship, Callahan said, and a literal interpretation of inviting staff into the “executive” space more regularly.
Both leaders sought to better capitalize on the ideas of their diverse staff and to get a more holistic feel for the pulse of their organizations — two things an overall “open door policy” can plausibly help achieve. A CEO, president, or secretary-general with an open door — or no door at all — has increasingly become a popular strategy within global development institutions wanting to shake the grips of bureaucracy and better understand, communicate with, and motivate staff around the world.