I was exposed to open-door leadership early in my career. In this style of leadership, decisions are made openly and determined by capability. Managers solve problems through enablement and empowerment.
My earliest views toward leadership were formed by these open-door leadership models. I learned how work got done from some of the best—I learned that great leadership is not hierarchical, but rather dependent on people who are willing and able to lead an initiative to a desired outcome. This is the very message that drives Leaders Open Doors.
As Bill Treasurer so succinctly explains, effective leadership can only be grown in a setting where doors are opened, creativity and innovation are requirements, and employees stretch their own abilities and push against the organization's comfort zone. Solving problems is a small scale, closed-door approach. An open-door leader must focus on the outcome and opening the doors of opportunity to those that he or she employs.
This kind of outcome-focused thinking has helped me see that leadership is itinerant and dependent. You could say that my job is often to foster a collaborative, transparent,
energized environment—one where people can step up to and into leadership opportunities, not because of their titles or who they know, but because of what they can do to help our stakeholders, our people, and our customers succeed.
I wish I was ingenious enough to think of this approach all by myself, but like Bill, who was inspired by his fiveyear-old child, I came to this realization by listening to and learning from others. Early in my career I worked for an organization that taught me the importance of advocating for our customers' desired outcomes. I discovered that obstacles were opportunities and learned to value them. This was once clearly illustrated to me when I worked with my colleague, Max. He was not someone I managed; like me, he managed another team.
Max had just lost a series of deals. I caught him staring out of his office window, withdrawn, head down. He looked dejected. I knocked and, without asking, walked in. We started to talk and he described his tremendous sense of failure. I just watched Max and nodded. When he was done, I asked three simple questions: “How do you think your team feels?” “How do you think your manager feels?” “How are those prospects' lives going to be affected when they deploy the lesser solutions?”
Anyone can lead when things look bright. But, how we act during difficult times really defines us. Leaders aren't successful at leading because they win every time—they are defined by who they are and how they serve others when they fail. Failure is part of the game and right then Max's
team needed strength and support, not feelings of weakness and failure. They needed to know he believed in them. Max had an opportunity in front of him. He had the opportunity to change the situation from one where failure ruled to one where he led a team away from failure and opened doors to new ideas, new motivations, and new starts. He had to accept the situation and move forward, otherwise he was closing doors, wallowing in the problem, and blinding himself and others to the new opportunities ahead.
I realize now more than ever the value of this open-door leadership style. It starts by looking, feeling, and listening. True leaders can learn about a problem simply by observing the situation. They can then use their insights to determine a solution. As Bill says in this book, by focusing on opportunities we can create the conditions we want.
Opportunities beget opportunity. We live by this at Peoplefl By focusing on “socializing” learning, recruiting, talent and leadership development, we continue to open doors to new ideas, thought leadership, and conversations. Even our products encourage people to lead rather than manage, and share successes rather than focus on failure. We empower collaboration by helping to create transparency and increase communication. We assist organizations in fi ing and hiring the best people so their teams have the best chance for success. I like to think that what we do and what we offer opens doors for others to step into roles of leadership, creativity, and prosperity. Nothing can replace the fundamental tenets of a servicebased leadership approach. And this message is at the heart of Bill's open-door leadership model. We open doors to be kind and to help others, but we also open doors to let people in and to provide an entry point for our colleagues who might not have known where to go. Open-door leadership is a lifestyle, not an event. May the next door you open provide entry to a new world for the people you serve— whether for a friend, colleague, employee, manager, or even family member.
Leaders Open Doors affirms the best thinking about leadership. I see in Bill and this book a simple and clear message—leaders don't measure success in terms of themselves; leaders measure success in terms of the outcomes they help other others achieve.