5 Reasons People Wish Lousy Leaders Would Stay Away
I’m a huge fan of leadership walk-abouts. But if you’re a lousy leader, just stay in your office and keep doing the “important” work you think you’re doing.
5 reasons people wish lousy leaders would stay away:
- They have a ton of work to do and they don’t have time to kiss your butt.
- They don’t want a new assignment. Typically, you want something when you show up.
- All you ever talk about are problems.
- You bring up problems you want them to solve.
- They’re tired of making you look good and getting nothing for it.
5 things people think when lousy leaders show up:
- Well, that’s the end of a good day!
- I wonder what she wants.
- Au-oh, what happened?
- What have I done wrong?
- How can I get away from him?
10 commandments for leadership walk-abouts:
- Show up often enough that people aren’t shocked to see you.
- Show up to connect with people.
- Show up to support more than challenge.
- Show up for short visits. Several short visits are better than one long visit.
- Show up to give more than take.
- Show up to listen more than talk.
- Show up with a smile. You might not feel intimidating, but you probably are.
- Show up with humble respect. You’re nothing, from a leadership perspective, without the people you lead.
- Show up asking, “What’s working?” A lousy leader’s negative focus is exhausting.
- Show up asking, “What do you think?” People bring up concerns and issues. Don’t offer quick solutions.
If you want people to be glad to see you, be glad to see them.
Why don’t people wish leaders would stay away?
What commandments are most important for successful leadership walk-abouts? What commandments might you add?
Afterword: The idea of Management by Wandering Around (MBWA) originated with Hewlett-Packard decades ago. Thanks, Tom Peters and Robert Waterman Jr.
In my leadership classes I teach about “Gemba Walking” in conjunction with the concept of MBWA. Here’s a link to a site that describes it very well: https://kanbanize.com/lean-management/improvement/gemba-walk . The Japanese term “Gemba” can also be defined as “point of action” and the idea is that leaders need to get up from behind their desks and go to where the action is to know what’s really happening in their leadership sphere. I learned about this concept while serving with the Marine Corps in Japan. Keep up the great work! Kind Regards, Barry Fetzer
Thanks Barry. I appreciate you adding to the conversation.
You’re very welcome. Another related concept is the “Hawthorne effect” after Hawthorne Works, a factory complex of the Western Electric Company, where this effect was observed. According to the blog Word-a-Day, “In the 1920s, researchers studying a group of workers at the Hawthorne Works of the Western Electric Company in Cicero, Illinois, observed something peculiar. They found that the productivity increased irrespective of the change in the direction of a variable. For example, the performance improved under brighter lights, but also when the lighting level was reduced. The researchers attributed this phenomenon to the workers’ perception that they were being given some attention. The very realization of being singled out for study motivated them to perform better.”
Similarly, perhaps, productivity may increase merely by leaders doing MBWA or “Gemba” walking by the sense that those at “the point of action” are being given some attention.
Why do people hope bad leaders stay away?
When they show up, they start micromanaging. Not good!
The number #4 commandment–keep it short is most important.
Great stuff Dan!
I also would add an 11th Commandment for consideration…
“Occasionally show up with food!”
Perfect. Thanks Page. It’s the simple things that make a big difference.
One of my leadership mentors was a firm believer in MBWA. He used to say (and practice), “Go around trying to catch someone doing something right!” (If I remember correctly this was a Ken Blanchard slogan.) My boss would hand out gold plastic coins with “thumbs up” symbol on one side and “Caught doing something right!” embossed on the other side as an immediate token of recognition during his successful walks. (He also rewarded good performance in more tangible ways, of course.)