I Resign From the Legion of Leadership Complexifiers

This book represents my full resignation from the ranks of the Legion of Leadership Complexifiers (LLC). I pledge to you that I will speak plainly and simply. Too many books,
including my earlier ones, are too dense and bloated with big SAT words, fancy quadrant models, and research citations from obscure academic journals. It's all part of the complexifi business. But after a quarter of a century as a ranking member of the LLC, this complexifi stuff bores and exhausts me. The density weighs me down. I suspect it weighs you down too. Reading a book shouldn't exhaust you like a long day at work.

My resignation is driven by a few changes in my own life. First, I'm older and, frankly, less insecure. When I was in my 20s, 30s, and 40s, proving how smart I was took up a lot of my time. Now that I'm in my 50s, I am more interested in having ideas connect with you than validating my intellect.

Second, having led hundreds of client engagements throughout my career and having spoken to thousands of people across the world, I've come to realize that the ideas that get through to people are those that are easiest to understand. Simple ideas are self-evident and effective. Most importantly, simple ideas get used.

The third change driving my resignation from the LLC ranks is that I'm the father of three children. They have taught me that we career-minded grown-ups are often just too smart for our own good, which is dumb. We're better off thinking about leadership with the clarity and simplicity of a five-year-old child. When I want my kids to get something done, like a house chore, I don't talk about the “strategic value-added proposition of goal attainment”; I talk about the opportunity they'll create by getting the work
done. Yes, kids, you can have ice cream . . . right after you clean up your room. Simple, not complex!

We Can Simplify Leadership

Faced with a growing and ever-changing list of leadership criteria, who could possibly be successful as a leader, much less want to be one? Maybe it's time to lighten the leadership load a little. Maybe it's time to get back to the basic idea that leaders are simply creators of opportunity for others: they open doors. I wrote this book to bring leadership back to that simple idea.

Open-door leadership is a simple concept that you can quickly grasp and enjoy putting into practice. My hope is that the concepts make it appealing for you to opt in to the chance to lead. If you are in a position to open doors for people by creating opportunities that help them grow, you are a leader. This book will be especially useful if you are:

• new to the leadership ranks

• a seasoned executive, but feeling uninspired in your leadership role

• frustrated by the apathy and lack of motivation shown by your direct reports

• at the “give back” stage in your career, where helping others succeed is especially gratifying

• confused about the topic of leadership (maybe because of the glut of bloated leadership books!)

• wanting to be a better and more effective leader. The aim of this book is simple: to inspire you to open doors of opportunity for the people you lead.

How This Book Opens Doors for You

As you read Leaders Open Doors you will be introduced to six unique doors of opportunity. The book is divided into two parts: “Before the Door” and “Doors of Opportunity.” The first three chapters, part I, will ground you in the book's foundational concepts; part II covers six chapters, each describing a unique opportunity door. Leaders Open Doors is meant to be a fast and useful read. It is also designed to help you take immediate action. At the end of each chapter you'll be provided with some specific actions and reflection questions to provide momentum toward strengthening your open-door leadership.


You'll Learn

Key Takeaways


What a leader is

v Leadership should be simple, not complex.

v A leader creates opportunities for others.

Chapter 1: Introducing OpenDoor Leadership

Why leadership means opening doors

v Open-door leaders have four key skills.

Chapter 2: Opportunity Focus

Why focusing on problem solving is far less effective than focusing on the opportunities those “problems” nearly always provide

v Leaders fill people with courage.

v Pull through opportunity; don't push through fear.

v Sharpen your own opportunity-focus.


You'll Learn

Key Takeaways

Chapter 3: Purposeful Discomfort

Why making people uncomfortable—in a way they can absorb—is every leader's primary job

v Create discomfort for both yourself and others to inspire them to grow.

Chapter 4: The ProvingGround Door

Why giving people opportunities to prove themselves taps into their need to excel and can supercharge motivation

v Design gradual provingground opportunities to help people grow.

v Refine your own skills as an open-door leader.

Chapter 5: The ThoughtShifting Door

How the actions leaders take can help broaden and shift someone's perspective so he can face challenges more creatively

v Disrupting mental routines encourages creativity.

v Symbols encourage thought shift.

v Small language changes can change perception.

Chapter 6: The Door to a

Second Chance

How you can gain deep loyalty and commitment when you open a door to a second chance, especially after big mistakes

v Transform mistakes into platforms for growth.

v Strategic forgiveness can engender loyalty and growth.

Chapter 7: Opening Doors for Others

Why leaders need to pay special attention to the needs of people who are outside the majority

v Break through “tribal” thinking and include Others in your organization.


You'll Learn

Key Takeaways

Chapter 8: The Door to Personal


How instrumental leaders can be

in bringing about career and life transformations for people

v Leaders should model transformation first.

v Open-door leaders intentionally help others transform.

v Open-door leaders promote accountability.

v Effective feedback is both diplomatic and honest.

Chapter 9:

The Door to Your Open Heart

How you can have the greatest positive impact on people only when you open yourself up and show your true self to those you lead

v Caring affects loyalty and performance.

v Opening up about who you really are can strengthen your bond with those you lead—and why you should do it.

A Word Before You Start

The approach to leadership described in this book is based on the simple and well-tested idea that leaders help people and organizations grow when they focus on creating opportunities for others. But just because the idea is simple doesn't mean it is easy. Open-door leadership takes work. So let's get started. How do you start opening doors for people, and what's in it for you if you do? Turn to the first part to find out.

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