When you make the effort to personally go and look at what’s really happening, two immediate positive results will occur:
- You’ll see the unvarnished truth with your own eyes.
- Your employees will realize that you are committed and you care.
More than simply conducting “management by walking around” (“mbwa” always struck me as an unfocused 1980s sort of expression), instead practice “leadership by getting involved.” Never miss an opportunity to ask how things are going; then actually pause and intently listen to the answer. Stick with it until you reveal the essence of the situation. Of course the key is then actually acting upon the information you learn and following up on commitments you make to team members.
By the time a serious problem makes it to a senior manager’s desk, you can bet that it has already festered for too long. By leading from the front, you’ll be able to see and solve situations by working with those closest to the action, before they escalate into bigger issues.
True leaders inspire their teams to make positive changes in the things that matter most, while creating worthwhile outcomes for customers. Superior results are achieved when leaders collaborate instead of dictate. To become a respected leader, dedicate the time to look and then listen. You’ll be glad you did—and so will your team.
This article first appeared on the Landscape Management Blog on April 26, 2017, as the fourth installment in a monthly series on Leadership.