It’s important that a leader not become too isolated from his employees and the front lines of the business. Instead of spending all of his/her time in the corner office or in high level meetings, it’s critical that he/she walk the four corners of the building, regularly interacts with all levels of staff and gets out and meets with clients. I’ve found there is a direct relationship between how much time a leader actually spends communicating with people (at all levels of the company) and how they ultimately feel about their job. It’s very tempting to fall into the trap of becoming “Atlas” and carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders, but it is unwise, stressful, shortsighted and inhibits your ability to actually lead.
The primary job of a leader is to harness the energy and talents of a diverse group of people to achieve a common objective. They need to create an environment of shared responsibility and interdependency. Leadership is less about “doing” and more about “being.” Employees need to feel connected to something bigger than themselves but also understand how they fit in with this big picture. Moreover, successful organizations typically see their clients as partners and engage them in a constant dialogue around what constitutes value and success. To do all of the above, you need to be out there listening and communicating.
It’s impossible to lead effectively by distancing yourself too far from what truly matters. No one person has all he answers nor does he/she have the full intellectual and common sense capacity to understand everything that needs to get done. Good ideas don’t just form naturally in a vacuum. As you grow it’s understandable to feel yourself getting pulled further and further from the day to day business of your company, but don’t fully succumb to this reality. Force yourself to stay connected to your people and your clients and the ride will seem less bumpy and success more enjoyable.
- Richard Branson: When All News Is Good News (entrepreneur.com)
- Rare Wisdom from Citrix CEO Mark Templeton about Hiearchy and Respect (bobsutton.typepad.com)