My bet is that the leaders you most admire are the ones who left you better off than they found you by creating opportunities that helped you grow.
- By being open to you, valuing your input and perspective.
- By being open with you, telling you the truth even if the truth is difficult to hear.
- By helping you be receptive to new possibilities and experiences and new ways of perceiving and thinking.
Open-door leadership involves creating or assigning opportunities in order to promote growth. By promoting the growth of those they lead, leaders increase the likelihood of their own success and advancement. They also increase the likelihood of creating other leaders, which is essential to building a lasting leadership legacy.
People and organizations grow and develop to the extent that they capitalize on opportunities to do so. Opportunities are important to leaders because they’re important to the people they lead. Opportunities are the venues where people can try, test, better, and even find themselves. The leader’s job is to match the opportunity to the person and to help the person—and the organization—exploit the opportunity for all it’s worth. Open-door leadership is about noticing, identifying, and creating opportunities for those being led.
Leaders create leaders by opening doors of opportunity that have a positive and lasting impact on the behavior of those they lead.
Want to be this kind of open-door leader? Start by studying and applying these four skills.
- Know your employees: Have extensive knowledge about the backgrounds, needs, and desires of your employees. Invest time in getting to know them beyond the tasks they get done for you. Ask them directly about their career goals and aspirations— what do they want to get out of this job? Keep in mind the goal isn’t to intrude or interrogate. It’s to gain 9 Introducing Open-Door Leadership insight into their goals, strengths, and motivations. We’ll talk more about this in the coming chapters.
- Match suitedness: Draw connections between the opportunity and the developmental needs of your employees. This involves constantly being on the lookout for opportunities that can advance your employee’s careers. Then, when opportunities are identified ask yourself, “Whose growth and development would pursuing this opportunity most advance?”
- Envision the desired results: Have a clear picture of the desired benefits that given opportunities present for the employees and the organization. Once an opportunity is assigned, do some “future-casting” with your employee, thinking through the potential benefits—to the employee and the organization—that could emerge if the opportunity is successfully accomplished. Also give some thought to the actions that will have to occur to maximize the probability of success.
- Provide ongoing support: Genuinely want, and support, your employees’ success. This skill is an outgrowth of the other three. When you really know the aims of your employees—when you’ve assigned them to a juicy opportunity that’s ripe for their skills and worked with them to develop a clear picture of a successful outcome—you almost can’t help but take a strong interest in their success. Stay involved by periodically asking what support they need from you, removing barriers that might block their progress, and offering encouragement and guidance when they hit roadblocks and bottlenecks.
The more you cultivate these skills, the more you will see opportunities to open doors for others.
Learn more about Open-Door Leadership here
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