Visit most elementary school classrooms, and you will see a division of duties that includes job tasks critical to the smooth functioning of the classroom: line leader, snack helper, paper passer, calendar captain, and door holder. Although Mama Kat’s prompt tonight asked us to “share something your child said or did that surprised you,” I am borrowing something Bill Treasurer’s child, Ian, said. Watch this brief video to hear what Ian said:
Ian’s statement, “I got to open doors for people,” and Bill Treasurer’s elaboration on the six types of “Doors of Opportunity” in his book, Leaders Open Doors, reminded me of how easily we can “complexify” the challenges we face at work.
Thinking about Ian’s pride in opening doors for his classmates echoed back to how fulfilled I have felt when leaders throughout my career have made me feel like an important part of the team. They did this in different ways: making sure I had information about the project so that I understood where my task fit in the “big picture,” making me feel like my contribution was something that I was uniquely positioned and qualified to do, and (even though I didn’t always get warm fuzzies about this) giving me specific directions when I needed to make corrections.
One of Bill Treasurer’s recommended “Open-Door Actions and Reflections” is: Identify at least one leader who helped bring about a personal shift for you. What was the shift? Why did you need it? What did the leader do to help bring it about?
I have had many leaders over the years, effective ones, abrupt ones, milquetoast ones. To provide an example that might make sense to Ian and his teacher (if they happened to be a 48 year old in the workplace), I’ll share this: we had a team of consultants at Healthy Kids once who were working with us on process improvement projects. There was a difficult technology transition under way, and as the Director of Customer Service, I had gotten in the habit of writing lengthy, detailed, ill-tempered emails about problems I was experiencing with our new system and the effects of the problems on our enrollees. The consultant said to me, very matter of factly, “you know, you write long emails about these issues and you are blasting waves of ‘this is a problem,’ ‘this is also a problem,’ and ‘there is a third issue too….’ to multiple recipients, without identifying who you hope is going to rectify the situation or suggesting solutions. This is taking up your time without yielding any solutions.”
That conversation was held several years ago. I can’t think of a single email since then where I have not identified who I was directing the email to (even if I cc’d others for the sake of sharing important information) or what outcome I hoped for. It has helped me use my time more effectively and the likelihood of eliciting solutions to the problems I am presenting is higher.
Bill Treasurer reminds us, “It’s hard to be an open-door leader if your mental door is closed.” I thank Lori, the consultant mentioned above, for helping me push through a behavioral door that was hurting me. I encourage you to pick up Bill’s book to refresh your approach to leadership in a radically simple way.
Bill Treasurer, Chief Encouragement Officer at Giant Leap Consulting and former U.S. High Diver, wants leaders to be a part of opening doors of opportunities for others to thrive, achieve, and lead. The proceeds of his new book, Leaders Open Doors, are being donated to charities that serve children with special needs. Available on Amazon.
Note: I received a complimentary copy of this book for review purposes.