Leaders Who've Opened Doors for Leaders
I'd like to end this epilogue with some stories about opendoor leadership from people who I look up to and admire. Many are well-known leadership writers. But, like Clarence, they have all been blessed by someone who left them better off than they were found. As you'll see, they're full of gratitude for the leaders who opened doors for them. As you read their stories, I'd like you to hold in your mind and heart the leaders who've opened doors for you along the way. Please send your stories to me (btreasurer@giantleap consulting.com). I'd love to hear them! Then get set on opening doors for others!
Jim Kouzes's Open-Door Leader
“You can't do it alone.” That's what Don Bennett, the first amputee to climb Mt. Rainier, told me nearly 30 years ago when I asked him to share the most important lesson he
learned from his ascent to the top of that mountain. It's the most important lesson I've learned from three decades of researching leadership, and it's one I keep relearning every day. I know that I could not have done what I've done without the mentoring, teaching, and counseling of so many others in my career and life.
I learned this lesson most personally from my good friend, colleague, and co-author, Barry Posner, with whom I've been researching and writing since 1982. When I first arrived on the campus of Santa Clara University as the new director of the Executive Development Center in the fall of 1981, I knew only the dean who had hired me. I was a stranger to the campus even though I'd lived and worked not far away for 10 years. On my first day, I was unpacking boxes and setting up my office when I heard a knock on my door.
I turned and saw this tall guy standing there, and he said, “Welcome to Santa Clara. My name is Barry Posner, and if you need anyone to show you around and introduce you to some of the faculty and staff just let me know.” I took Barry up on his offer. Not too long after that, we found out that we had some common academic interests and Barry invited me to co-author a paper with him and Warren Schmidt on how shared values make a difference. Again, I took him up on the offer.
To make a very long story very short, 30-plus years of collaboration began because someone with a welcoming heart knocked on my door and asked if I needed help. All
these years later that experience continues to teach me important lessons. Two in particular stand out. First, relationships begin when you take the initiative to make them happen. You have to knock on some doors if you want to engage with others. Second, when someone knocks on your door and offers help, say, “Yes.” Yes starts things. Yes gets things moving. Yes engages.
You'll have to excuse me now. I think I hear a knock on my door.
Jim Kouzes is the co-author with Barry Posner of the bestselling book, The Leadership Challenge, and is the Dean's Executive Fellow of Leadership at Leavey School of Business, Santa Clara University.
Ken Blanchard's Open-Door Leader
When I was studying for my PhD, all my professors told me that if I wanted to work at a university I should be an administrator, not faculty, because I couldn't write—and I believed them. My first university job was as an administrative assistant to Dean Harry Evarts at the college of business at Ohio University. When I joined his staff, Dean Evarts asked me to teach a course in the management department, which was headed up by a man named Paul Hersey, who had also just arrived on campus.
After teaching for a few weeks, I came home and told my wife Margie, “This is what I ought to be doing. Teaching is fun.”
She said, “But what about the writing?”
“I don't know, but we'll figure something out,” I replied. That fall I heard about a great leadership course Hersey was teaching, so I asked him if I could sit in on it the follow-
“Nobody audits my course,” was Hersey's response. “If you want to take it for credit, you're welcome.” And he walked away. I thought that was interesting, because I had my doctorate degree and he didn't! I went home and told Margie about the conversation.
“Is he any good?” she asked. “He's supposed to be fabulous.”
“Then why don't you get your ego out of the way and take his course?”
So I did and it was a great experience.
In June 1967, after the course had ended, Hersey came to my office and said, “Ken, I've been teaching leadership for 10 years now and I think I'm better than anybody—but they want me to write a management textbook and I can't write. I've been looking for a good writer like you. Would you write it with me?”
I laughed and said, “Why not? We ought to make quite a team. You can't write and I'm not supposed to.”
That's exactly what we did. Our textbook, Management of Organizational Behavior: Utilizing Human Resources, recently came out in its 10th edition. It sells more today than it did in the 1960s. So it was Harry Evarts who launched my teaching career and Paul Hersey who launched my writing career. I'll be indebted to them both forever.
Ken is the chief spiritual offi of The Ken Blanchard Companies and author of more than 50 books, including The One Minute Manager.