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Leaders Open Doors: A Radically Simple Approach to Lift People, Profits, and Performance

Be a leader who talks about what gets you up in the morning, instead of what keeps you up at night.

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.

If you want workers to act like adults, leaders much lead like adults.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.

 

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Where is your energy coming from?

I recently have had a series of coaching sessions with clients that are on the verge of burnout.  The sequestration and furloughs have my federal clients challenged, and my private sector clients are burning the candle at both ends.  I am the chair of the trustees of my church and our attendance has grown significantly since opening the doors of our amazing new facility, our staff is cheerfully pushing the envelope as new seekers come and stay (a great problem to have we say with gratitude.)  I am also a member of my alma mater's Alumni Association, and we are in the midst of a capital campaign for a beautiful new student center.  I ran across a blog today entitled The Antidote to Burnout is Progress post by Tomasz Tunguz that really resonated. He writes:
"Andrew Dumont wrote about his grueling schedule at a startup and the lessons on “Avoiding Burnout” which spurred a torrent of comments on HackerNews. For me, the most interesting comment is this one by Daniel Ribeir:

'Burnout is caused when you repeatedly make large amounts of sacrifice and or effort into high-risk problems that fail…You effectively condition your brain to associate work with failure… The best way to prevent burnout is to follow up a serious failure with doing small things that you know are going to work.'"

So there is progress all around me at the moment, and I can really tell the difference in how I am expending my energy.  My stress level is healthy and I am motivated.  When there is not progress being made, then burnout is a by product.

Where do you get your energy to go on?

I get mine in these ways:

    • My family responsibilities.  They need me and I need them so I won't let them down. 
    • I love what I do.  Coaching leaders is the best career for me!  I am grateful that I can provide and connect with such interesting and intelligent people on a daily basis to help them reach their potential. 
    • Have some fun.  I went about a week one time when I had not laughed.  I realized that was not going to work for me any more, and I make sure I have 'fun' planned into the work of my day.  And I have an active social life with friends and family.  Nothing like sleep overs with my 6 year old's BFF to keep things light! 
    • Annual traditions like July in Ogunquit, ME.  The great thing about my job is I can coach anywhere as long as I have a phone and an internet connection.  My family goes to Maine where I can breathe in the sea air, feast on the delicacies of the area, and live in the comfort of a wonderful small home we have been renting for several years. 
    • Simplicity - when things get crazy, I find the simplicity in whatever I can to get centered and find balance. 
    • Faith - God has me covered.  Not all my business leaders have a faith system to rely on, but most of them do.  It is a wonderful thing to be able to integrate spiritual connections to the stress of daily living.  This bullet should really go first, but I will save the best for last!

 

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Taking Pause

What is going on in this world?  The Boston Marathon, Texas, Watertown?  Sandy Hook, Sandy.  North Korea, the Middle East. Such unrest, volatility, and anxiety.  Mass transit lock downs, political mud-slinging.  No background checks for gun purchases?  I tend to be the type of person that likes to see the good in people, situations, life.  One of my common phrases I say is: "The good news is..."  I hear my six year old saying it as well, funny how we learn what our blind spots are through our children.

I do not have any answers as to why the last few years in the US seem to be different than the years before.  The children being killed are what make it so real.  I am a prayerful woman, and I am doing a lot of that today.  I can imagine how paralyzed in fear the residents around Boston are right now.  We experienced something similar in 2002 with the DC sniper rampage.  Crouching at the gas pumps for fear of some random attack.

I watched Argo again last night, a film I have to put in the all time top 10.  And it amazes me how much goes on covertly that the average citizen never hears about, or when we do we are so far removed from it, the terror cannot sink in.  I have remained fairly poli-neutral these last few years.  I am an avid Facebook fan, but I rarely respond to political posts.   Is there a point where common sense (whatever that is for people) should reign?  I am a proud and grateful American.  I have a thriving small business, healthy children, a loving husband, amazing friends, and live in a wonderful neighborhood where the flowers bloom and the children laugh and play.  I have been insulated, and spoiled.  But there are many dangerous nations that simply hate America.   Mental health issues continue to get ignored.  I feel helpless.  It is all so clearly bigger than I am, and as a mom all I can think about is keeping my kids safe.  And there is so much out of our control.  I do not want to live in fear and panic.

It's time to take a pause and get very clear on what is important in life.  Who is important, and what your faith system is or is not.  I plan to tell my friends and family how much they mean to me.  I thank God for provision.  I pray.

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Leadership and the Art of Struggle Review - A New Book by Steven Snyder

 

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.

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Tribute to Kate

I wrote this while traveling late last year. I head out this week for several days, and the guilt of not being there made me want to share this with anyone that feels compelled to read it.

 

Oh sweet Kate how I love you so.

Daily proclamations of “it’s morning time!”

Unyielding contentment as I watch you grow.

The moments you call for me, a precious rhyme.

You love life and all it brings.

It is your excitement about all living things.

The perpetual grin on my face as I look into your Mapuche eyes.

My heart bursts with what you will eventually realize.

And God placed you in my over extended hands.

I regret when my patience fails.

I’d kiss you all day if life didn’t have other plans.

You are just my little skittle I want to gobble as a snack.

And there are moments I wish I could have back.

Infectious are your giggles.

Triggered by my tickles.

Treasures made of nickels.

Mimi flowers, singing for hours.

Scrub-a-dub-dub, three men in a tub.

A caring friend, a tender heart, inclusive and fair.

You expect it in return.

Your heart breaks when it’s burned.

What does God have in store?

What is He looking for?

Is being there enough?

Have we given you too much stuff?

Am I being too tough?

Do I laugh with you enough?

Parenting is the hardest job I’ve learned,

With so many discoveries discerned.

As far as I am concerned,

The best job in the land.

Will you ever understand?

What you have been in my life?

Just when I was the most lonely,

You showed up and stole my essence.

Made me a better human.

I melt in your presence.

It was no accident,

God had the right plan.

Stories like this cannot be made up.

And it will last for eternity.

Kate bobate with the update,

I know other mom’s can relate.

Each moment frozen would not be enough

To realize the purpose you have for me.



 

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