Ever wonder if your leader is in touch with reality? Ever wonder where they are? Ever watch them walk to and from meetings – and wonder what they are looking for? I have wonder those a few times in my career. I used to use the phrase, “looking for $50 bills” when I see a senior leader walking around looking down at the floor, rather than looking at the people that were passing by. A few years back, I wondered if our group leader was still employed, I never saw him in the building. I knew he was around, my email inbox said so. I guess he was hiding out in a conference room or somewhere else. Leaders need to be out and about! I really enjoy walking up and down the cubicle hallways, to the café (sit down with folks that you know but not well), or to a conference room; just so I could talk to people. The people that worked for me, the ones that supported my team or just strangers. It is amazing some of the conservations that I have participated in.
I was reading a recent blog post from the Harvard Business Review by John Baldoni, he highlights four ways.
- Study up: Leaders need understand the issues facing their organizations today. They should be well versed in their particular field. If anyone is wondering where to get that information, just Google it or talk to your experts. They will get more than they need. Just try to pick out the stuff that is truly needed.
- Listen up: Once you have the knowledge from study, how do you really get to the heart? Take some time to listen to your customers, stakeholders and even your people. You will definitely hear from customers and stakeholders – what they don’t really care for. Your people, well that comes down to the relationship that you have with them. Will they share the real stuff?
- Inspect up: Get out and take a real deep look. I went to a military school for college, and inspections were a way of life. I am not talking about those type of inspections. If you are a leader and have a manufacturing floor; it is about time to go out and see how things really get done. Not an overview tour or a well prepared welcome to the floor special, but a surprise visit that lets you see the real deal. Spend time helping out.
- Follow up: If you do the first three, then you need to follow up on what you have learned. For me, I find the leader that asked for some information and does nothing with it, annoying. Almost makes me want to jump on the next fire drill request. It is all about accountability. The leader and his teams accountability to each other, to their customers and stakeholders.
Trying to lead an organization from their office or private conference room is not going to work. It may seem easier on the leader, but the organization observes and remembers. Get out there – see the folks, talk , joke with them and observe what is happening.