The Empowered Leader Knows Small Hinges Swing Big Doors


Whenever we are challenged, face a crisis, or are confronted with a problem, so often we immediately start thinking about the bigness of the required response.

We start thinking about how much money this is going to cost us to right it, or the enormous amount of time it will take to fix it, or how many months (or even years!) it will be before things get back to normal.

Rarely do we think small: What can I do right now to make a difference here? What small thing can I do that will bring about even a small change here?

I was reminded of a story about a CEO who was very concerned about morale in his organisation. Every idea he had to turn it around cost a great deal of money which the company didn’t have. He believed that he had to spend money on improving staff facilities, or offering staff experiences that would make them happy to work there. He felt trapped and dis-empowered because he couldn’t see how things were going to improve.  He was talking with a colleague who happened to be a coach over an after-work drink one night and that short discussion turned him from the dis-empowered CEO into the empowered leader.

His coach colleague asked him if he could find 20 minutes out of his day to fix the problem. Of course, that was very possible. No money, just 20 minutes of his time.

Every day this CEO came to work, parked his car in his private car park just outside his front of building office. He walked inside, acknowledged his PA and executive staff and went straight to his office.

His coach colleague asked him to spend 20 minutes every day for a month walking through a different part of his office building before he went to his office. Along the way he was to meet and greet his staff, get to know them and find out what they were doing.

He began to do this. People were a bit surprised at first and wondered what he was up to. After all there had been a joke going around the office: What’s the difference between Mr. X (the CEO) and Santa Claus? The answer: Santa Claus is real. They never saw him.

As the week’s passed, however, and his walks became regular and consistent, a big change took place. Within 3 weeks, the morale in his organisation had begun to significantly change. People were greeting him warmly as he walked around each morning. There was more positive energy around and improvements were being noticed in productivity. He felt very much the empowering and empowered leader.

I am reminded of something Napoleon Hill said:

If you cannot do great things, do small things in a great way.

This is a great example of doing small things in a great way. It’s also a good example of how a small hinge (something that cost nothing but 20 minutes a day) can swing the big door – and begin to change the culture of an organisation.

So the challenge I’m throwing out to all who read this is to find those small things in your life that you can do in a great way.

What are the small hinges in your life that have the potential to swing big doors?

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