II Doors of Opportunity

The chapters in the fi part were about establishing an open-door leader mindset. Leaders are most effective when they elevate people to a higher standard of performance by opening many doors of opportunity. Adopting an opportunity focus means viewing challenges as things to be expected, valued, and embraced. However, moving others toward opportunity also means purposefully nudging them out of their comfort zones. Opportunities are uncomfortable things, and open-door leaders help people and organizations grow to the extent that they inspire them to do the uncomfortable. This section builds upon the foundational principles covered in part I and introduces six unique doors that any

aspiring open-door leader needs to know how to open.

In this part you'll learn:

• why giving people something to prove is powerfully important

• how open-door leadership often involves getting people to see the world differently
why second chances are important, and when to give them

• why tapping into the perspectives of those who stand outside the majority is critically important to your success as an open-door leader and to their success as employees

• how open-door leaders can bring about personal transformation in themselves and others

• why open-door leadership requires opening your heart to those you lead.

The Proving-Ground Door

One of the beautiful things about baseball is that every once in a while you come into

a situation where you want to, and where you have to, reach down and prove something.

Nolan Ryan

On any given afternoon between Memorial Day and Labor Day, Little League baseball games are underway at neighborhood ballparks throughout America. While there's no guarantee which team will win—be it the Johnsonville Juggernauts or the Midville Mudslingers—what is guaranteed is that at least one little bench-sitting baseball player will be pleading, “Put me in, Coach! I'm ready to play!”

Every kid who plays baseball dreams of making a big play or hitting a home run. But first they have to be given the shot, and it's the coach who decides who gets to step up to the plate. Adults are like kids, just with bigger clothes and bigger egos. We all want a chance to shine. We want to prove—to ourselves and to others—what we can do. But our chance to shine hinges on whether we get a proving ground where we can test our mettle. Often, unless our leader opens a door to an opportunity proving ground, our skills will languish or we will go unnoticed among our teammates.

Few things are as motivating as having something to prove. It is what propels the entrepreneurial spirit that so many organizations are desperate to ignite. Open-door leaders are wise to take advantage of the deep-seated desire that human beings have to prove their worth. Often, the open-door leader is the only person with the keys to the proving-ground door.

Who Deserves an Opportunity?

Who, exactly, should the open-door leader give an opportunity to? Why everyone of course! That said, opportunities are more urgently needed for a person who is:

• early in her career and needs to prove her meddle

• late in his career and needs a “swan song” assignment

• suffering after a career setback and needs to prove herself to herself in order to reclaim her confidence

• hungry to exercise and showcase his latent skills so he can advance • ready to jump onto the management track

• long overdue for a good opportunity, having earned the right to have her moment to shine

• slotted to succeed a beloved senior executive and

in need of a substantial and visible “win” to gain loyalty

• a flight risk because he is under challenged and thirsty to add more value and take on more responsibility.

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