A couple of years back , when I had joined a great organization , I observed that there was one leader who was unanimously counted as the best by almost the full organization. After one week of rigorous induction, we had a small ceremony where the new joinees were welcomed by the organization. I saw the great person talking to someone and I meekly went towards him and waited for him to finish the conversation.
He looked at me and I blurted out nervously .. "I have heard a lot about you. I also want to be a successful leader. Tell me your secret. What do you do ? How do you lead such a large team ? And by God ! Everybody just swoons over your leadership style !! "
He looked at me and gave me a big and warm smile.
"Hey ! You want me to tell you my secret ? Well ... here it is ... I walk around .... " He laughed a full throated laughter, winked at me and walked away ... "
I thought he was joking. But he was not.
I did see him walking about - a minimum of 30-60 min everyday. Despite his busy schedule, lots of meetings, engagements, deliveries, responsibilities, he walked around , met people, even sat and shared his thoughts with a few members of his team,,,, everyday...
And then I understood what he had meant when he said " I walk around...."
A boss who is always sitting on his desk can be very intimidating and unapproachable. But to know what is happening "at the trenches" , he has to walk around. To be connected and stay connected, a leader has to walk around, talking to the team, help and support them , ask questions which will make them think and take the right decision. Better connection will help the leader to understand and motivate the team. They will feel that the leader is always around and is genuinely interested in them.
Leading by walking around helps in these :
- Builds trust : When the leader talks , it breaks the barriers and builds trust. The more you communicate , the better it is .
- Makes the leader approachable : When the leader walks around, he is perceived as a supported rather than a boss . The issues become clearer and they can be resolved before they become a problem
- Morale booster : When people are heard, they feel better about their jobs. They feel that there is an opportunity for them to talk to the leader about their problems or achievement.
- Productivity : While talking, many creative ideas are generated. When the leader is walking around, people feel free to come up with their ideas.
But beware ! This is not like walking about in a mall. The leader has to be genuinely interested in the team and after conversations , he has to follow up and take necessary actions whenever needed. Listening and observing has to be more than talking. Walking and talking should be utilized for recognition and appreciation. Chatting about something other than work is also important. And then , this time should not be used to criticize or chide.
And finally remember, do not overdo things. The team should not feel that you are constantly around just to check status and then your presence becomes a hindrance.
I have tried this and has worked wildly with me. It has build relationships which my team and I cherish. It is easy , economical and fun !
Try it. I am sure you will love it . And so will your team !
If you have any experience on leading by walking around , do share in the comments .