Leadership is hard for many reasons, but primarily because people are involved in the equation. Without people to lead, no leadership takes place.
There are thousands of articles, books, and blog posts about leadership styles. We could go on and on discussing and debating those issues. Today I want to focus on two types of leadership—flip sides of the same coin. Why? Because every leader is either one or the other.
Are you a Gate Keeper or a Door Holder?
Every leader is in a position to directly affect the growth and advancement of the people who’ve been placed in their care. Part of leadership is determining which people on the team are ready for more responsibility, or if they’re up to the task of becoming leaders themselves.
How a leader approaches this responsibility will be due to their particular mindset, even subconsciously. Are they a gate keeper or a door holder?
Gate Keepers Are Sentinels
Gate Keepers rarely see themselves as facilitators. They view their role more as “large and in charge,” a boss whose whims and wishes must be followed without question because they’re all-wise and all-knowing. These benevolent rulers are the ones with the knowledge and experience, so you couldn’t possibly replace them or do their job as well.
Seriously, the people who work for them should be thankful they have jobs in the first place!
These kinds of bosses tend to be either be overbearing dictators or micromanagers—sometimes both. They view their primary job to be keeping you in line, mainly so that they can make themselves look good to the higher-ups.
On top of all this, Gate Keepers act like security guards or club bouncers, determining who is worthy to walk through the gate, to advance to the higher levels within the company, to get a good review, or to receive good references.
Sure, you might say that any leader is an evaluator of people. Every leader judges the performance of their team, but here we’re talking about the attitude behind that judgement. Gate Keepers do nothing to help prepare their team for success, they simply demand the team be successful or face the consequences.
Door Holders Are Servants
On the other hand, Door Holders understand they are primarily servant-leaders. They view themselves simply as another team member—one with a different level of responsibility that comes with an inherent level of authority but not superiority. Yes, they may be experienced and knowledgable, but they understand that knowledge and experience are meant for the good of the team, not for building their own personal fiefdom.
Door holders understand that their role as a leader is to facilitate the success of their team. They view team failure as a failure of leadership. What could they have done better as a leader? Did the team have all the tools and resources they needed to get the job done? Did the team understand the goals and objectives, or could the leader have done a better job communicating clearly?
This type of leader also understands that one of their primary responsibilities is to raise up the next generation of leaders—they view that training as a privilege instead of a threat. They hold the door open for their “underlings,” helping them learn and grow so that they can eventually step through that door with their head held high.
A good leader replicates themselves and cheers team members on when they succeed, get promoted, and are recognized for their achievements. Again, this type of leader views their own role as one of servanthood. They realize everyone coming up to the door doesn’t have it all together yet. Their team members are carrying bad habits and burdens and need help getting through the door. Their team members may be distracted or blinded and need to be show the way.
Which Will You Be?
Which of the two types of leaders above best describes you? Which one do you want to be?
Decide today and make the changes necessary to be a door holder for your team. Lead them up to, and through the door of success and advancement by serving, teaching, and molding.
Also published on Medium.
I’m Jeff M. Miller, and I help ordinary people who are stuck in a rut change their behaviors so they can be extraordinary. I’m an entrepreneur who retired from my full-time job in my early 40s to work from home. I’m a financial counselor, life coach, graphic designer, and passionate believer in helping others improve their lives a little more each day.
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