Leaders Open Doors - by Bill Treasurer - A Leading Questions Review

Some things that touch me emotionally very deeply. LOD cover

People who have special needs, and the people who care for them.

And people who are servant leaders who inspire others to take initiative to make a difference.

Bill Treasurer accomplishes both in a very simple, compelling, authentic way.

Bill is a leadership consultant and writer who has just published a much needed book for all leaders. It is a timely message that should resonate with leaders all over the world.

Leaders Open Doors: A Radically Simple Leadership Approach to Lift People, Profits, and Performance describes six strategies that leaders can deploy to provide new and better opportunities for people.

Many leaders must acquire a new mindset in order to fully appreciate the simplicity and genius of his message. He writes, 

Being an open-door leader requires having an understanding of what an open-door leader does. It also means having an opportunity mind-set, a significant shift from the more common threat-focused way of leading.  ... Open-door leaders view challenging as opportunities not problems. Instead of injecting people with fear, the help peole see the opportunities that challenges provide, inspiring them with excitement and hope. The resulting optimism lifts morale and performance.

Is this just more of the same relational rhetoric that leadership writers are producing lately, or is this an important insight that we should each stop and reflect upon?

One way to answer the question is by asking to what degree are your people reaching their potential. 

Do you have any way of measuring your employees potential? Do you know what potential is? Do you have a program or methodology for developing potential?

These are important questions for an organizational leader if they hope to get great performance out of their staff.

Bill Treasurer's open-door approach is place to begin this development. 

It isn't just a mechanical process of looking for more work for people to do. Rather, it is a way of building trust and initiative for impact within the business.

Trust grows when employees recognize that their boss or supervisor believes that they can do great things. This is different than heavy expectations for performance that are not reasonable and fear-based.  When doors are opened, and opportunity presented, then personal initiative produces benefits that no other way of managing people can do

Opportunities Make a Difference; Opportunities Create Change

Every opportunity to excel is an opportunity to make a positive change. Bill Treasurer's six open-doors are thresholds of change.

They provide people the opportunity ...

to prove themselves,

to find new meaning in life and work,

to have a second chance to make a difference,

to practice open-door leadership for others,

to become a person of integrity and authenticity, and,

to know how to build relationships of loyalty and trust.

Change your relationships, change your life and work. Change them within your business, change your business. Opening doors is a way to make it happen.

The Difference Matters

Bill Treasurer's Leaders Open Door is the right book at the right time. It is ideal for a leaders retreat, for discussion in a mentoring relationship, or to share with family, friends and colleagues.

By buying and giving this book away, you are opening doors. Not only for business people who may learn how to change their leadership method, but also because all the proceeds from sales of the book go to help special needs kids. Here's a video to explain.


Emotions: Validation or Liberation

The posts over the past few days that focus on behavioral economics prodded me to begin to think about how emotions actually function in a more practical sense in how we work, live and even lead organizations.

I know in my own experience, my emotions for the vast majority of my first 50 years of life were never released, were kept in check, and only paraded out in the most secure settings. An experience with my oldest son watching the series Band of Brothers changed it for me forever.

We were watching the last segment which is a documentary on the men in the unit portrayed in the mini-series where they talked about their experience fighting in the Battle of the Bulge.  They described the closeness, the camaraderie, the trust, the bond, the absolute confidence that their fellow soldiers had with one another, and how they never experienced this depth of friendship during the rest of their lives. As these men, of common birth, of no remarkable accomplishments after their war experience, spoke of their relationships with one another, I realized that they had experience what I had desired in my own relationships with people. As that revelation swept over me, I began to cry, no sob, uncontrollably.  Once, I got control of my emotions, I turn to my son and told him, "What these men have experienced is what we all long to experience. If during the course of your lifetime, you find relationships with others like these men have had, then consider yourself more than fortunate. You will have experienced the kind of friendship we all long for, and most never, ever experience."

Emotionally it was a turning point for me, and to a certain extent has allowed me the opportunity to grow as a person. How odd that we find that through our emotions we find progress. The question is what exactly does this mean?

As I've reflected on this over time, I've come to a few conclusions that may make some sense.

First, I really don't have a scientific basis for what I'm about to write, but I'll not let the idea succeed or fail on its own merits.  I believe that our emotions are connected to the right hemisphere of our brain, and that it is the seat of our ability to create. Pure emotion cannot create lasting good. Establishing a connection to the more analytical left hemisphere is how our best attempts at creativity find success. This is my own interpretation of the many things I've read and heard on brain science. It is my own take.  If we want to be effective as creative persons, then we must bring both sides of our brain's life together.

When I was in my twenties, I had the opportunity to spend time with a number of artists. I loved their creativity. I had a real identification with them, but didn't really know how that could work for me. I had no real artistic talent that I could identify. I had taken a number of art history courses in college because visual culture was interesting to me. But, the closest that I ever came to doing with I thought artists did was take photographs.

The banner picture above is one I took this summer in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. It is a several pictures stitched together to create an image that the camera could not produce with one shot, and is not really the picture you see if you stand at this spot in this side channel of the Snake River. There is an emotional connection to this place for our family. It is here just to the right side of the picture where our family has swam with horses, riding bareback through a deep pool where both horse and rider float, and we get wet, and experience a rare moment of real oneness with the horse.   

Through the release of the emotions of creativity, new openness and opportunities occur. We must look for them, seek them out, and take advantage of them for them to have any lasting meaning. But they are there none the less. For me the release has meant a greater level of sensitivity to the delicate situations occurring in my work with clients. It isn't simply formulaic analysis and standard set of recommendations. It is rather identifying the unique path that each person or organization must travel through a time of transition. It is where my creative work now occurs.

Second, I've observed that peoples' emotions also serve a validation purpose. In this sense, the emotions serve to defend against the intrusion of ideas and influences that might threaten those beliefs and practices that have come to provide security.  It is what connects to others, creates a social bond and provides a real sense of personal identity.

Throughout my life, I have encounter many, many angry people. Why are they angry? There any number of reasons. They feel threatened. They feel a loss of control. They are afraid. They feel misunderstood. They are embarrassed. They are confused.  Any number of reasons. They look to their emotions to validate their claim. The emotions become defensive.  We've all encountered these emotions in others, and may even feel them ourselves at times.

When we look to our emotions to validate rather than to liberate, we have closed a circle around our lives. We have determine (rationally?) that I no longer need to consider new ideas, new perspectives, new approaches. I know what I need to know, and any outside influence should be viewed as a threat.

If then, as I said earlier that the emotions are the seat of creativity, then what we have done by seeking only emotions that validate is that we have closed off our ability to create, to learn, to grow, and to make the transitions in life that are necessary for happiness and fulfillment. It means it is very difficult to venture across the narrow confines of our comfortable, secure, safe set of relationships in networks of relationships that much to us and we to them, but requires a greater level of personal security because the validation factor has changed. 

Why am I going to such lengths to describe emotions in this way?  I am because I believe that managing change or transition is as much an emotional process as it is a rational, analytical one. And if Danny Kahnemann and his cohort of behavioral economists are correct, then our emotions lead us, and are notTransition - Growth or Decline merely a response.

All transitions are emotional. If you take the image here as a guide, you'll see that at these transition points, we can either move up or go into a decline. From an emotional point of view, if we approach these transition points with resistance,looking for validation of how we have been functioning up to that point, then we'll continue to see a flattening of our performance or possible decline.

However, if we approach these transition points with openness to the opportunities that may lie ahead, our emotions will liberate our creative side to bring resources that would be constrained and confined otherwise. We will see that that what brought us to this level of success is not necessarily going to take us to the next level. Which means that we must change. We must stop doing some things and start doing new ones.

So, when you are in a meeting, and you are listening to some one who is angry, ask yourself this question. "What is this person telling me about what they love?" Why this question? Because I'm convinced that at the heart of our emotions is love. And the anger is telling us that this person feels that something they love is being threatened. If you want to move beyond the anger, then identify what it is that they love, and validate it, affirm it, and figure out someway to carry it through the transition with safety.

Do we have a choice in these matters? Can we liberate our emotions to greater creativity and impact?  I believe so. But it isn't an analytical process. Rather, it is an expressive one. Go put yourself in the position to be creative. Take a pottery course at the local community college. Join a Toastmasters group. Begin to mentor a underprivileged kid. Start writing a blog. Do something that is not primarily mental, but expresses your creativity in some way. As you do, you'll find greater confidence and insight into who you are. You'll discover aspects of your life that your emotions have kept hidden for a long time. 

Quick Takes: Seth Godin's The Dip Revisited

A year ago with Seth Godin's little masterpiece The Dip came out, I picked it up and read it quickly. IThe_dip_seth_godin appreciated the thought, but wasn't quite sure how to apply it. 

Then a few days ago, Seth posted the following at his blog.

Just about a year ago, I published The Dip.
It turned out to be one of my most successful books. Perhaps you have a copy--which I appreciate more than you can guess. Now, here's the favor:
A year later, would you mind sharing your copy? Take it off the shelf and loan it to someone. Someone at work or in your family, perhaps. If I could double the number of people who read the book, it would be pretty cool.

So, I decided to read it again. Here's the lesson for us all. Context matters. A book read at one point in time may not have the effect that it does at another point. This is where I find myself. I'm in a Dip, and have becoming increasingly aware over the past few weeks, it was time to quit. Quit in order to push through the Dip.

Here's what I've realized through reading Seth's book. He makes the point that we should look at what we do from the perspective of being the best in the world at a certain thing. What I have begun to see over the past year is this very thing. It will take time and focus to realize its potential. This means I must quit certain responsibilities that I've acquired.

If you have ambition or desire to be the best in the world at something, you will find that for a period of time, you'll be in dark with your feelings of ambition. You may not see what it is that you can excel at. So, you do a wide variety of things because each may teach you something or it gives you the opportunity to contribute in some meaningful way. It is like Jim Collins writes about in Good To Great, that the enemy of the great is the good. In this case, the enemy of our successfully achieving world's best status are all the things that we do well, but not well enough to become the primary focus of our lives.

This is the message of The Dip. If what you are doing isn't leading some where, then quit so you can find it. It takes courage and persistence, but that's nothing new. Needless to say, read the book.

Reframing Your Lifetime Expectations

There is a prevalent mindset in our society that you "work" up to your 60s and then retire.  I don't understand that. Maybe it is because I enjoy what I do, and it is so much a part of whom I am, that I can't imagine doing anything else. 

This is what I thought of as I read Lute Olson's story.  I look forward to picking up his book Lute! The Seasons of My Life.

If you are taking care of yourself as Lute is, then you can expect to live a much longer life that any previous generation in your family.  In my family, the men have lived into the 90s.  So, what should I expect, my 100s?  If I take care of myself, yes.

So, as this awareness has sunk into me, I realized that I didn't have a personal performance plan that linked together the years between my 50s and my 80s.  I don't see an ending in sight.  I see stages of transition in what I am doing.  And what I'll be doing at 65 will be different than now, not because of being 65, but because the plan which takes me to 80 requires me to continually to develop as a person.

At the time that Bobbi Olson, Lute's wife of 47 years, sick and dying, I was doing some work for the University of Arizona.  I remember being in Tucson a couple weeks after she died, and Lute had returned to the team after less that a week a way.  They were nationally ranked, and were playing Stanford, also nationally ranked at the time.  It was a fun experience reminding me of my own beloved TarHeels.  I remember thinking at that time about the breadth of impact that Lute and Bobbi Olson had had on the university and the people of Arizona.  And now to hear that he has remarried, and is committed to continuing his coaching into his 80s, is just another example to me of the mindset that we need to have about our lives.

I've been rifting lately about doing the impossible.  Here's an example to me of just that.  At a time in life, when most people have reduced their responsibilities and are living a quieter, less demanding life, here Lute Olson is continuing to charge ahead with high goals for himself in his 70s and his teenage basketball players. 

Whatever age you are, it's a good idea to begin to think about reframing your lifetime performance plan.  Precisely what do you want to be doing at 80 or 90?