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Yes: Management by Walking Around is Still Important

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Yes: Management by Walking Around is Still Important

A colleague once told me an interesting story. She had a middle-level field sales manager who resigned to take on another role. Curious, she decided not to replace him for about six months. Here’s what happened: nothing! There was no change in the sales performance of the team that had reported to this individual and no change in anything else—for example client loss, expense control. On enquiry, she discovered that members of the individual’s team could not recall the last time they had received a visit, made a joint sales call, held a meeting with, or had any other direct, personal, interaction with their manager.

This vignette reminds me of the critical need to make management by walking around a critical part of our leadership routine, whether it means getting up from your desk a couple of times a day and walking the halls, dropping in on staff in your building, booking coffee meetings with telecommuters, and flying across the country from time to time if need be. Here’s why:

First and foremost, in my mind, is the need to model leadership behavior.

You might just be amazed how powerful it can be to simply be the kind of employee that you desire everyone else in your organization to be. They will watch you intently! They will listen to your words, your tone, your responses to questions—and they will watch your body language—even without realizing it. This enables you to demonstrate your organization’s character to every person in the organization, and this will translate into the way folks not only treat one another, but how they respond to customers as well.

Of course, these brief conversations also enable you to recognize and respond more immediately to instances of ineffectiveness, or gaps in knowledge and approach—thus giving rise to the opportunity to be a curbside coach—giving meaningful guidance right in the thick of day-to-day activity.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, people grow not only in capability, but their sense of purpose at work grows deeper when they notice that you have noticed them. And management by walking around may be the most important part of your growth as a leader too. The simple power of your presence can have a significant positive impact on how the people of your organization regard your leadership.

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