7 Do’s and Don’ts for Getting the Most From the Smartest People in the Building
Isolated leaders are the dumbest people in the building.
A nameplate on the door and a title after your name doesn’t make you smarter than people with dirt under their fingernails.
Disconnected leaders – seduced by position and perks – don’t get it.
At lunch this week, a turnaround specialist explained that the answers for struggling organizations are typically found in front-line supervisors. This is especially true when internal issues are the reason for the struggle.
Front-line supervisors always understand day-to-day operations better than disconnected leaders.
7 do’s and don’ts:
- Don’t occasionally bring front-line supervisors to upper-management meetings.
- Do push information and authority to people who supervise work.
- Do become friends with front-line supervisors. Walk around in the trenches two or three times a week. (Every day wouldn’t be too often.)
- Don’t plug your ears to nagging complaints from someone in a blue shirt.
- Don’t rush to solutions or give quick answers.
- Do lean in and ask questions.
- Why are we doing it that way?
- What’s holding you back from moving this forward?
- What assumptions got us into this mess?
- How might we take an imperfect step forward? (In a turbulent world, all solutions are imperfect.)
- What’s important about this? For greater clarity, add, ‘for you,’ ‘for your team,’ ‘for our customers,’ or ‘for our organization,’ at the end of the question.
- What do you think?
- How can I help?
- Tell me more.
- Do make their lives easier. Clear the path. Remove obstacles to performance.
If you’re in top management or the C-Suite, the people with sweat on their brows know more about day-to-day operations than you.
How might organizations tap into the wisdom of front-line supervisors?