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  • Writer's pictureChris Smith

Now Hiring: Door Holder

Updated: Jun 7, 2020

The ‘door-holder’ holds the door. He or she walks amongst the class, and springs into action as the class approaches a door. He or she then holds that door, through which the rest of the class will pass. Depending on the style of door, the door holder is also responsible for closing the door after the class has passed. It is common that the door holder would greet students as they are passing. It is important that members of the class thank the door holder after they have passed. Rarely is the door holder’s service performed without a smile.

The other day my son returned home and I asked him about his day. He told me that he was the door holder. He was very excited. The door holder represents an exciting set of responsibilities. The door holder is important. “What does the door holder do?” I asked. “They hold the door,” my son replied before adding, “…everybody says ‘thank you’ to the door holder.’” This last part is a big deal.

Did I mentioned my son is 4 years old? He beamed with pride as I asked him questions about having been the door holder. “What do you like about being the door holder?” I asked. “Well, I always make a deal. They can only come through the door if they give me a high five. But I wish I didn’t have to be last in line after I hold the door,” he conceded before elaborating, “…but I get to go back to the front when we get to the next door.” Another question from me: “How do your friends treat you when you’re the door holder?” He tells me “They’re nice.”

The door holder sounds like a pretty good overall experience. People aspire to be the door holder. They’re respected. They’re valued. They have some authority and some power to negotiate. They get to connect with everybody in a positive way. And they have a well-defined role: whenever there is a door to be opened, everybody knows who’s time it is.

Strengthening, protecting, and empowering are capabilities usually reserved for leaders, but anybody in an organization can demonstrate them with a positive effect. I recognize them in the door holder, and I wondered about the door holders in modern professional organizations. So who are the ‘door holders’ in your organization? This opportunity, or some similar version thereof, seems to have all of the key elements of a rewarding experience: respect, clear expectations, relationships, responsibility, flexibility, and job satisfaction. Of course, there is the albatross of having to revert to the rear of the line when the job is done. But sometimes you get called up to the front again quickly.

I’d like to encourage leaders to examine their organizations and identify their door holders based on these criteria:

  • Focus - Who in your organization appreciates a well-defined role? These people work well to create clarity and eliminate confusion. This probably permeates lots of things that they do within the organization.

  • Smart - Who is your organization is ‘people-smart’? These people have a certain savvy about them, and have that innate ability to connect and engage with people. This is somebody who can inspire people and build coalitions.

  • Passion - Who in your organization is just happy to be there? These people have a positive attitude, and a willing to put the needs of their colleagues and the organization in front of their own. This might be a future leader.

Modern organizations spend a lot of time measuring how well we do things. It makes me wonder how often we’re measuring the right things? In my son’s school, they seem to be more focused on creating the conditions in which leadership can be encouraged and rewarded - both by a positive peer experience. In a world where lots of time, perhaps too much time, is spent trying to identify and separate high performers for leadership, perhaps what we really need are more people who are willing to step up and hold the door for others.

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