Great leaders open doors for other leaders. Great leaders also know when to knock. Be a door opener. Learn how to knock.
Who’s opened doors for you? What have you done to open doors for others?
Bill Treasurer, author of Leaders Who Open Doors, is collecting stories of leaders who have opened doors, or created opportunities for others. Today, I share my story of Dr. Henry Sims, who opened a door that changed the course of my career.
I invite you to recognize a leader who opened a door for you in the comments. This post will be included in Bill’s Leadership Open Door Fest on August 13th.
A SuperLeadership- Open Doors Story
When I was a young communications graduate student at the University of Maryland, I met the best door opener of my career. I was working on a research project around empowering leadership. I noticed that nearly everyone I was reading was citing the same guy, Dr. Henry Sims. Since this was before the days you could google-up answers in an instant, I went to the library and found one of his books, SuperLeadership, Leading Others to Lead Themselves.
I flipped to the back page to read about the authors. I had to laugh. Dr. Sims taught across campus at the business school. I read the book in one sitting, picked up the book and my recent writing, ran across campus and knocked on his door. He stopped what he was doing and we talked for several hours, he practiced everything he had written about.
He led me to lead myself.
He asked provocative questions and made me think. He challenged me to consider my direction. Not just in my research, but in my career.
I left my paper with him for comment.
When I came back the next week, he said, “I think I can help you publish this (which we did)” and the next several hours of in-depth discussion led me to understand that what I really wanted to do was to be working in organizations, not studying them and that what I needed most was not an academic advisor, but a contact.
Then he began opening doors. The next week he took me to lunch with a director doing leadership work in the company I have worked for ever since.
Hank has remained my mentor and my friend. When I get stuck, I knock. He always has questions, ideas, and contacts (mostly other folks for whom he’s opened doors). I knocked just last month.
I asked Hank why he opens doors for students and others (ironically, I never did take a class from him).
In retrospect, the best part of my academic career has been the influence and support I have been able to provide to others. I have tried to act and behave as a “SuperLeader.”
The benefits of knocking is that some SuperLeader may open a door. Knock. Answer. Lead.
Another Favorite Book by Hank Sims: Business Without Bosses: How Self Managed Teams are Building High Performance Companies
*Photo Dr. Henry Sims, Super Leader, Door Opener