HBR has an interesting view on leadership openness in their June issue, which is worthy of contemplation:
‘….NASA researchers had placed existing cockpit crews – in flight simulators and tested them to see how they would respond during the crucial 30 to 45 seconds between the first sign of a potential accident and the moment it would occur. The stereotypical take-charge ‘flyboy’ pilots, who acted immediately on their gut instincts, made the wrong decisions far more often that the more open, inclusive pilots who said to their crews, in effect, ‘We’ve got a problem. How do you read it?’ before choosing a course of action.
At one level, the lesson of the NASA findings is simple: Leaders are far likelier to make mistakes when they act on too little information then when they wait to learn more. …. the pilot’s habitual style of interacting with their crews determined whether crew members would provide them with essential information during an in-air crisis. The pilots who’d made the right choices routinely had open exchanges with their crew members. The study also showed that crew members who had regularly worked with the ‘decisive’ pilots were unwilling to intervene – even when they had information that might have save the plane’
(HBR, June 2009, What’s Needed Next: A Culture of Candor)
I have worked for leaders who were not willing to create a culture of openness, where people held back information or were afraid to speak up – and it definitely hurt the business – opportunities lost, pitfalls not avoided. I much prefer the culture of collaboration. Good article (full version is available free online).