By fostering an open working culture, leaders can harness employee innovation and creativity to build a sustainable future.  Ann Gammie explains how.

“When times get tough, the gut reaction of many leaders is often to try to deliver more with less. One practical effect of this is a far greater level of control in terms of how things are done. People get squeezed into job ‘cages’, micro-managing proliferates and initiative-taking is condemned.

Such an environment is the antithesis of an ‘open’ culture. What’s more, it is counter-productive. Because surviving and thriving in a challenging environment means encouraging flexibility, focus, energy, great ideas, customer loyalty and organisational responsiveness – the opposite of increasing control.

An open environment used to be considered one in which people were empowered. But this concept is really now part of the old paradigm. These days, an open environment is one that harnesses the collective power of the whole. It is a space in which people can be authentic without anarchy, one where there is a balance between individual freedom of expression and a certain level of order and focus…”

This article appeared in The Guardian online’s Leadership Hub on 4 March 2013.  To read it in full visit: