One of the main jobs of any leader is to help create opportunities for his or her people--opportunities to learn, to grow, and to succeed. However, as IBM chairman and CEO Virginia Rometty points out, "Growth and comfort do not coexist." In other words, if employees don't take the leap to wholeheartedly accept opportunities when they are presented, it's up to leaders to push their employees out of their comfort zones.
In his book Leaders Open Doors, Bill Treasurer, founder and chief encouragement officer at Giant Leap Consulting, calls this important leader job "open-door leadership." Says Treasurer, "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."
Here are the four skills you need to be an open-door leader--someone who opens doors of opportunity for the members of your team.
1. Know your employees
Take the time to get to know your employees as individuals, not just nameless, faceless cogs in your management machine. Find out who they are--their backgrounds, desires, and needs--and learn what their career and life goals are.
2. Match the best-suited employees
As you scan for opportunities in your business, match employees who are best suited to them. Ask yourself, "Whose growth and development would pursuing this opportunity most advance?" And consider who on your team will bring the best skills and attitude to the opportunity.
3. Envision the desired results
Assess the degree to which opportunities will provide desired benefits to your company, and to your people. While a particular opportunity might allow you to expand your reach into a lucrative new market, it might also provide your people with growth opportunities that will allow them to achieve the goals they have set for their careers. Providing opportunities for growth within your company will enable you to develop and retain your best employees.
4. Provide ongoing support
As you work through the previous three skills, you will develop a genuine desire within yourself to ensure the success of your people. As you invest your time in them, they will become more valuable to your organization--and to you as a leader. Keep the channels of communication open, and regularly ask your employees what you can do to support them, remove obstacles from their path, and encourage their continued success.