An Approach to Lift People, Profit and Performance
“I got to open doors for people!”
When Bill Treasurer heard his five-year-old son say those words, he immediately recognized this as valuable leadership advice. With decades of consulting experience, Bill wrote Leaders Open Doors: A Radically Simple Leadership Approach to Lift People, Profits, and Performance as a new approach to leadership. Bill Treasurer is the founder of Giant Leap Consulting. He has led corporate workshops for clients ranging from Saks Fifth Avenue to NASA.
I wanted Bill to share his approach to leadership and how Leaders Open Doors. Bill is also careful to explain that leaders open doors, but that does not mean they have always-open door policies:
“Allowing yourself to be continuously interrupted is a recipe for lousy leadership.” -Bill Treasurer
Open Door Leaders Make People Uncomfortable
What’s most important about leadership?
The focus of leadership should not be the leader. The focus should be on what the leader is doing to create opportunities for those he or she is leading. Ultimately, followers reap the rewards of effective leadership.
I call leaders who focus on creating opportunities for those they serve Open-door Leaders.
“Vulnerability is critical to leadership because it mitigates the leader’s ego.” -Bill Treasurer
Explain why you say that a leader’s job is to make people uncomfortable.
People and organizations grow, progress, and evolve by taking on challenges, which are, by definition, uncomfortable things. An Open-door Leader’s job is to nudge people into their discomfort zones.
The trick is nudging people far enough outside their comfort zones that they become motivated to pursue a higher standard of performance, but not so far outside their comfort zones that they get paralyzed with fear.
To be clear, making people uncomfortable does not equate with stoking their fears. There’s nothing more childish than intimidating leadership. Fear is cheap leadership – it takes no effort or thought. Open-door Leaders, conversely, make people feel safe enough that they want to pursue uncomfortable challenges. By creating safety, the leader helps people become comfortable with being uncomfortable.
Virginia “Ginni” Rometty, the CEO of IBM, said it best: “Growth and comfort do not coexist.”
How does a leader restore confidence in someone who is discouraged?
- Sharing stories of his or her own hardships and struggles. When leaders share stories about their own imperfections, failures, or mistakes with us, we judge ourselves less harshly.
- Believing in us more than we believe in ourselves. Leaders have to constantly remind us of our potential so we can see momentary missteps in a larger context.
- Give people another shot. Consider, for example, when you were learning how to ride a bike. What did your parents make you do whenever you fell? Get back up and try again. They didn’t stop believing in you just because you fell. They viewed the setback as part of the learning process. Likewise, after a career setback or failure, the leader should help us draw out corrective lessons, and then have us re-attempt the thing that set us back.
How do leaders shift perspective in others?