Leaders of organizations, especially people with high level titles and ownership positions, establish and maintain the level of comfort that other employees experience when they are asked to speak up.
In most organizations, the willingness of employees, even managers, to speak up in disagreement with the higher level person is appallingly bad. Why is this so? Is it because people lack personal and professional courage at work? Or, are they too beholden to these executives for their job?
In any case, it is the leader who establishes the tone and the work environment in which people choose - or choose not - to exercise personal courage and freedom of expression. If the leader has traditionally proved to be genuinely open to comments and criticism, people are willing to agree, disagree, and express opinions.
If the leader has not been open to disagreement or debate, his or her actions speak loudly and clearly to staff. And, unfortunately, it only takes one exhibition of closed mindedness, or worse, punishing the speaker, for staff to learn whether their opinions are actually wanted.
The good leader, who wants to take advantage of the experience, knowledge, and thoughtfulness of talented staff, remembers this. The good leader is aware of their power to encourage or stifle opinions and debate. They use this power to genuinely appreciate and encourage input, debate, and differing opinions.