Being out, being seen and interacting with your team in my opinion is a central aspect of being an effective leader. As a US Army Infantry Officer, I remembered constantly walking whenever my Company was in a stationary position. I was walking to speak to the Commander, check in with the Platoon Sergeant’s on their supply levels, and help keep the Company supplied, fed, and in good spirits. The simple fact that I was out, walking around, and interacting with the Soldiers helped make me a good leader. Leaders need to be out, and then need to be seen, and they need to constantly interact with their teams. Leaders that confine themselves to their desks, conference room, and offices are missing essential aspects of what their team needs to be successful.
Follow these tips to use Leadership By Walking Around (LWA) to your best advantage:
- Walk Around To Gather Information and To Coach. Leading by Walking Around is a way to interact with employees, gather information, and look for small, but personally unique ways, to develop and coach your team. Leaders who confine themselves to their office create a singular interaction platform (that is, their office, their power base) to interact with their teams and to do it solely on their schedule. A better way is to walk around and interact with your team as they do their job and as they encounter and solve problems. A leader that is walking around, coaching, and helping solve problems is a part of the solution, not a part of the problem.
- Start & End The Day By Walking Around. Walking around towards the start and the end of the day is a great way to begin and end the day fresh. Make it a point to walk around at around 9 AM and 3 PM. Walking around too early or too late makes it seem you are checking to see who is not yet here or who is gone early – this sends the wrong message entirely. Instead, walking around the office, warehouse, data center, or shop floor starts and ends the day with positive interactions built on progress.
- Track How You Spend Your Time. To see how often you are out of the office, create a simple chart for one week and track how often you are out of the office, on property, and not in a meeting. This provides you with a good yardstick to determine how often you are out interacting and coaching your team at the location where they work. 10%-15% of your time is a good goal. Remember, you should stop, talk, interact, gather information, provide information, teach, and coach employees as you walk around. It is a walk & stop, not a fly by.
- Keep A Checklist How Often You Interact With Each Team Member. If you have a large team, keep a checklist how often you interact with each team member. This is to ensure you spend equal time and focus developing each member of your team. It is easy to speed a lot of time with people that we like or people that we are teaching a skill to master. By tracking individual interactions, you make it a point to interact, coach, develop, and improve each team member.
- Create A List Of All Your Critical Partners In The Organization. In addition to your team, go and see other teams and individuals that are critical to your success. If you are in a Marketing organization, then spend time with the Sales team on industry issues, customer developments, and ways your team can support the sales team better. These interactions will create a lot of personal and team credibility for your own leadership style when you spend time understanding and assisting others on their own terms.
- Stop Sending E-Mails – Call & Visit More. A great deal of e-mail is self-created. When you send an e-mail to 20 people, how often are there 20 (or more) responses created? The answer is a lot! Instead of sending an email, call or walk & talk to the people that help you to be effective and reach your goals. These conversations will build your relationships, build trust, and reduce the amount of email. Use email to communicate large updates and use conversations to teach, to create trust, and to build relationships.
Think of Leading by Walking Around as your number one daily tool to be a better leader, help your team grow, and as a way to be seen as an in-touch leader!
Share your tips and experiences how walking around helped you to be a better leader!
Other Articles of Interest:
- Be Great At Your Job, Run An Effective Meeting
- Military Values Reinforce The Importance of “Stopping The Line” For Safety & Quality
- Military Style Coaching is a Great Fit for Your Career Success
Author Bio: Chad Storlie is a Retired US Army Officer, the author of Combat Leader to Corporate Leader and has published over 230 articles in over 140 publications on military veterans, career advancement, business, leadership, strategy, education, financial planning, and national security topics. Chad excels as an author, mentor, speaker, and teacher showing business leaders and military veterans how military skills make lives, careers, and businesses better. Chad is an adjunct Professor of Marketing at Creighton University. Chad has a BA from Northwestern University and an MBA from Georgetown University. Follow Chad @CombatToCorp and www.CombatToCorporate.com