I’ve been on the road this week in Wyoming, visiting our local staff and chatting with them about where we’re at as a company, and the challenges in front of us.
All told, I’ll put about 900 miles on my rental car – travel that I actually enjoy quite a bit. But that’s another story (check out my recent post on Joyful Jubilant Learning).
The observation and lesson I want to pass along today is about the simple act of just showing up.
That’s right, just hopping on a plane, renting a car, driving up to a branch or regional office, and walking through the door.
If you are a manager that has staff in other places, even a couple of thousand miles away, you need to go to those places once in a while. Even once a year will do.
And what do you do once you get there? Just chat folks up. Listen. Laugh. Buy them breakfast or lunch. Maybe even sing a karaoke song or two ( I call that “Leadership, the Musical”).
I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve heard my teammates tell me “I really appreciate you being here – we NEVER used to see corporate people under previous owners“.
That’s music to my ears – I’m making a difference just by showing up.
Of course, once I get someplace my mission goes beyond physical presence – I’m always working hard to deliver a message that every teammate can make a difference, and that we’re all in this together. That’s when my friend Don Quixote appears with me, tilting at the invisible windmills that to me represent joy and happiness in the workplace.
But you have to start by getting out of your office. I travel 40-50% of the time, and I have no intention of pulling back, because if I lost that line of communication with my teammates, I really believe my effectiveness as a leader would be greatly reduced.
There’s a Latin expression that sums it all up for me – “solvitur ambulando”
It means, it is solved by walking. Out of the office and into the field.