Leaders Open Doors: A Radically Simple Approach to Lift People, Profits, and Performance - May 16, 2013
When I picked up this little treasure of a book by Bill Treasurer, I was interested, but still wondering what this would offer that countless other impactful leadership reads out there don’t. I was pleasantly surprised on a number of fronts, and found Bill’s next book after his internationally best selling book Courage Goes to Work, my new gift to my coaching clients.
I am a woman on the go! Balancing a growing business, volunteering regularly, raising a 6 year old, supporting a college rising-senior and other family demands, I do not take a lot of time to read many books cover to cover. I love books, use references and gain knowledge through the nuggets they provide. However, I am not what one would call a voracious reader. So Bill’s simple and pragmatic approach resonated with me immediately, and I love it! Like me, Bill is ‘experienced’ and has young children, so I related to him immediately. The title of his book is credited to his preschooler who came home one day after being selected ‘leader of the day.’ When Bill asked his son what he got to do as the class leader, his son replied, “I got to open doors for people!” Bill says that in a matter of 15 seconds, with seven simple words, his son clarified what’s most import about leadership. I was hooked!
Bill tells us he is rather a brainiac after a successful career that included an executive position with Accenture. He admits to having been a member of and subsequent resignation from the LLC: Legion of Leadership Complexifiers. That made me laugh. You know, all that leadership-speak that makes us sound worthy of hanging out with the muckety mucks and hossermawickets. I have been guilty of pledging for membership in that club too. It’s wat you do when you are climbing that corporate ladder.
It’s not about open door policies or keeping your door open. Not even close!
So many quotes I have already shared with my leadership coaching clients, and powerful questions and distinctions have paved the way to make a difference for them in this book. ”Leaders would be better served to talk about what gets them up in the morning than what keeps them awake at night.” A small nuance, with a powerful shift in energy and how one tackles their world. It’s generative, not laden in worry.
In my work educating leaders on generational differences and Leading Millennials, I hear some tell me. “They’re just kids. They don’t know anything.”
Well that is not a mindset that will win you loyalty and it is not going to inspire or motivate. One of the managers in a recent training actually said to the class, “When those Millennials ask me why I want them to do something, I just tell them if I wanted them to know why, I would tell them. Just do it!” He said it with a badge of honor.
He was unaware how debilitating that was and what that was creating on his team. After all that is how he was raised in the working world. (He has since seen the light and his people are wondering what has happened! Grateful!) Bill reinforces what I have already learned in my own research that when we all act like adults, treat each other like adults, much more is possible.
This hands-on, pragmatic guide will open your eyes to new ways to open doors as leaders. Bill talks about these critical opportunities:
- The Proving-Ground Door – “Put me in coach! I’m ready to play!”
- The Thought-Shifting Door – “…small language changes. There’s a big difference between ‘not bad’ and ‘pretty good.”
- The Door to Second Chance – …when honest and legal.
- Opening Doors for Others – Not just those who look, act and sound like us.
- The Door to Personal Transformation – Inspiring one’s own personal transformation is a start!
- The Door to Your Open Heart – Answering ‘yes’ to the ‘do you care about me question.’
I am thinking about giving this book to all my new coaching clients. These are foundational principles packaged in a way that can create sustainable behavior change. A coaches door.
Bill Treasurer, Chief Encouragement Officer at Giant Leap Consulting and former U.S. High Diver, wants leaders to be a part of opening doors of opportunities for others to thrive, achieve, and lead. The proceeds of his new book, Leaders Open Doors, are being donated to charities that serve children with special needs. Available on Amazon.
Leadership and the Art of Struggle Review – A New Book by Steven Snyder - March 21, 2013
In Leadership and the Art of Struggle: How Great Leaders Grow Through Challenge and Adversity, the author uses real life leadership struggles from some of the most accomplished business leaders. He also draws you in with his own real life experiences with working directly with Bill Gates during the early years of Microsoft. These stories are so interesting and provide great strategic details for embracing struggles. Through their hardships and the outcome of their decisions we can learn to be better leaders. The author believes that failure is a great teacher. This completely resonated with me, as when I think back on my ‘great moments’ in my 20+ corporate career, the ones that stand out are when I failed. And more importantly how I bounced back. I used to think it was just me being hard on myself like so many of my peers and leaders I coach. But the struggles are stores that guide one to a better path, remove barriers from our clouded thinking and open our eyes to possibilities we may have been closed off to if all ran smoothly with out any bumps.
In all of the real-life stories they tell about their most defining experience being a major struggle rather than a great success moment. One example of this is when he asked Jamie Dimon, JPMorgan’s chair and CEO, what his defining experience was. He replied instantly, “I got fired…by my mentor of 22 years.” Learning from that experience, Damon bounced back and became the world’s leading financial services CEO. The author states that, “only in acknowledging our own flaws and vulnerabilities can we become authentic leaders who empower people to perform to the best of their abilities.”
He talks about change being the heart of all leadership struggles. This causes a sense of being out of balance and tension. He provides what he calls, Playing out Struggle: Scripts. These six scripts will provide the leader with ways to change course and prevent problems that might have surfaced. Here are some nuggets that connected with me (and that I wish I had more awareness of earlier in my career!)
Script #1: Proactive Reinvention – leaders recognize that strategies that may have worked in the past are no longer effective.
Script #2: Stumble, Recover, and Learn – After making mistakes due to inexperience, leaders will recognize those errors and take appropriate corrective action.
Script #3: Burnout – Passionate leaders with bold ideas may enthusiastically charge ahead in new situations. These hard charging leaders are often so convinced that their vision is superior that they fail to take the time to fully understand and appreciate anyone else’s point of view.
Script #4: Transcending Constraint – In the transcending-constraint script, leaders initially see tremendous obstacles ahead but feel incapable of surmounting them due to external constraints.
Script #5: Mission Impossible – Ultimately, they are forced to accept that there is no way to realize their vision and aspirations.
Script#6: Confronting Failure – Leaders are forced to acknowledge that things did not work out according to their plans and expectations. In a word, they have failed.
The author provides examples throughout the book of these scripts. This man knows a lot of people, which makes reading about their stories so fascinating.
I also really love the chapter on Illuminate Blind Spots. This is a big topic with my coaching clients. We cannot change what we don’t notice, and unveiling blind spots are both painful, yet a gift that unleashes new options. He quotes Bill Gates on learning about the experience blind spot. In the book The Road Ahead, Gates says, “Success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they can’t lose.”
I have seen this in action through out my career. And the minute I got a little too big for my britches in one role many years ago, I learned quickly that was not a recipe for success.
I will most certainly be recommending this book to my clients! In fact, I just did! There are so many gems in this one.
About Steven Snyder:
Steven Snyder, Ph.D., is the founder of the Snyder Leadership Group, an organizational consulting firm. An innovator in thought leadership, Snyder has developed the breakthrough concepts introduced in Leadership and the Art of Struggle, based on years of leadership studies, intensive research, and data derived from extensive interviews with real-world executives from major corporations. He currently lives with his family in the Minneapolis area, where he remains actively engaged in philanthropy and community service.
Appreciating the Ghosts of Christmas Past - November 28, 2012
Well, I hope you all survived the feast that is Thanksgiving. It is my favorite holiday. It’s all about family, friends, food and gratitude. And the tradition in my home is start decorating for Christmas that Saturday and Sunday. My daughter’s birthday is three days after Christmas, so this entire season is all about Jesus and Kate. As many do that celebrate Christmas, we take out our decorations and all our ornaments tell a story. We have multiple themed trees. The main family tree has most of the ornaments. We are tacky tourists and have an ornament from just about every where we go.
There is the Victorian Tree which dons my decor from the mid-80-’s, which is when I first started my ‘own’ Christmas collecting after college. There is the Sports Tree, which is mostly golfers and Buffalo Bills (for die-hard husband who grew up there.) And the ‘Hummel Tree’ – I inherited a collection from my mom and my mother-in-law blessed me with many ornaments over the years. Then of course there is the ‘Barbie Tree’ my daughters claim. I get a very special feeling when I unwrap these treasures this time of year. Kate is old enough and gentle enough to help me now, so she is learning all the stories associated with these gifts. It is a healthy practice to remember who gave that one to you, and then think about them, and how those moments in time shaped your life. Some clients choose to forget the past and move on. Others dwell too much and let it drag them down. I believe there is wisdom in the past, and lessons to pull from.
This is probably my favorite ornament. My mom, who passed suddenly from a heart attack in 1979 when I was 16 years old, made it circa 1973. I remember she made many of these, and the pins, ribbon and bling were scattered on the crafts table. The loving memories of my childhood sweep in when I hang it prominently on the Victorian Tree, and everything else surrounds it. Plus blue was her favorite color.
This ballerina was given to me by a mentor and surrogate mom when I was getting married in 1988. Nancy Ryder Shay-she was a significant woman in my life at the time. She was nurturing and loving when I needed it most.
This cross-stitch Santa was my one and only attempt at needlework. (It is unfortunate, my mom was brilliant at needle work, and I did not pick up any of those skills.) I attempted to fit into my then-Cincinnati neighborhood and joined Kindervelt. They had KinderMart and I made this ornament for the fundraising event. It took me 12 hours. I used to joke with my neighbor Sue that it was the most expensive ornament at the sale if you consider my hourly salary multiplied by 12. Instead, she bought it for me for $5.00 and surprised me. I still LOL when I unwrap the thing. Never again.
My mother-in-law and Todd’s grandfather ‘Pipe’ painted these by hand. Back in the 60′s they did not have a lot of disposable income to spend on ornaments, so they made these precious trinkets and I begged her to let me have a set for our tree.
Procter & Gamble and my time in Cincinnati was spectacular. I met life long friends and mentors and my career was launched and focused. I was fortunate for 13 years at P&G. I followed and was inspired by a myriad of leaders. We left P&G in 2001 to move to Maryland to be with my precious step-daughter Lexie who is now in college. When we left OH, it was difficult as my friends became my family. And it is ornaments like this that I can recall such memories. P&G was the foundation for starting The Ermi Group. Learning is a core value there and that company invested so much in my development. I had a formal mentor, was part of a high potential program, and was given rotational job opportunities. I had a global role, traveled the world, was exposed to incredible diversity, and started coaching very talented leaders. It’s where I caught the leadership development bug. These programs are critical in any leadership development strategy.
Travel has always been a big part of our lives as it is for so many. Before Kate, we were big fans of California wine country. The smells, the people (one of my mentors retired there and we got first class tours and treatment!) and the wine of course! Visiting my parents on trips to Newport, RI and seeing the beautiful mansions decorated for Christmas. And business trips to Germany, where I learned these little handmade ornaments are quite popular. And the cardinal’s bird house I won in a fun ornament swapping party picked out by a woman I greatly admire. These are moments that allow for the space to appreciate. A leadership skill we can all work towards improving.
Emerging Heroes and Resilience - October 17, 2012
Tragedy has a way of reaching into the hearts and minds of people. Hurricane Sandy is the Katrina of the east coast. Over 1100 miles separate these two areas hard hit by natures’ conundrum, and the destruction experienced was and is astounding. I hesitate to ask how many of you know someone impacted by Sandy’s wrath. A college mate lost her home in a fire/flood combination on the Long Island shoreline. Seaside Heights is but a distant memory from a 1980 summer vacation that shaped my high school years. My next door neighbor as a child had to be rescued from her Weehawken apartment. Many more I am sure that I have not heard about.
I am glued to the TV these last couple of nights marveling at the stories of herculean heroism that are emerging. Mayor Cory Booker of Newark, NJ is one of them in my mind. He has invited powerless hurricane victims to his house. The Twitterati are in full force, and you can follow many of these heros for yourself as they are documenting their experience in 140 words or less over the course of the day. I can’t imagine the despair looming over those who lost their homes. While the death toll continues to climb, it seems it is only a fraction of the roughly 1833 of Katrina. Sandy allowed us to plan. And many evacuated from their homes, and returned to rubble.
I lived in New Jersey as a child, and grew up in Connecticut, so hurricanes are part of the weather history. Hurricane parties bring people together, and if you are lucky, you only lose power for a few hours and it feels like camping. And quality time with family as we hunker down and pray to be spared can create many meaningful memories. We taught Kate how to play Monopoly during our Sandy stand fast. And she won! You suddenly get much more patient when you have no where to go.
New Jerseyans/New Yorkers are a feisty bunch. You see their fervor during Yankees, Mets, Jets, and Giants games. They are survivors. No one will ever really know why these things happen to which people. Especially after 9/11. And many took a pretty big hit during Irene last year. It takes a certain amount of resilience to tackle the types of challenges. It would be quite easy to give up, let depression overcome you, and stop the fight. And these situations will certainly birth a new kind of hero. One that is not looking for the spotlight, and helps others they do not know in horrid conditions because it’s a duty to take care of our own.
I will be making a donation box to send up to Jersey this week. And will be praying to see what other calling there is to get involved and be part of the solution. I saw so many people selflessly head to Mississippi and Louisiana in 2005-06. I was in awe of their dedication. I donated to the Red Cross, and I wished I was able to do more. I want to discover what my next level of involvement and commitment is in this tragedy. A fierce winter is predicted for the northeast this year. And that season is upon us. Not the best timing when entire communities are wiped out. Everything is disrupted. Everything will change. And the energy it will take, the mindset to rebuild is hard to sustain even for the most impressive leader. Leadership lessons and role models are emerging each minute. You are all in my prayers.
THE DAYS AHEAD ARE GOING TO BE DIFFICULT. BUT THERE IS NO CHALLENGE THAT WE CAN’T MEET TOGETHER. THIS IS WHO WE ARE… AND THIS IS WHAT WE DO AS NEW YORKERS, AS NEW JERSEY-ANS… AND AS AMERICANS. WE HELP OTHERS WHO ARE IN NEED. WE MAY NOT HAVE ELECTRICITY, BUT WE HAVE POWER…
–Jon Bon Jovi