Having just spent one week in Asia and another in the North America visiting the regional teams, I am reminded just how much Leadership is about meeting the people and spending time with them and engaging with them.
There is only so much leadership we can provide by videoconferences, teleconferences or town halls meetings viewed remotely.
Face time spent with our teams is critical to maintain motivation and increase engagement.
But when we visit, we need to really spend time with them, not just be present in their locations or provide speeches.
We need to really engage, spend time talking to them, and more importantly listening to them.
To be honest I am quite shy, and I never really know what to say in these situations, but it couldn’t be any easier if truth were told.
The most important thing we can do is listen, and the easiest way to initiate this is to ask simple questions such as;
“So what are you involved in?”
“How is it going?” or
“Is there anything that I can help you with?”
These easy to remember, open-ended questions, are all you need to start the conversation rolling.
It’s not really important what we say, it’s important that we make ourselves available, and that we listen.
This increases engagement; it refreshes and renews the connection, and it also allows new connections to be made with new people, all of which increases engagement.
I think sometimes we forget how simple leadership is.
It’s all about the people, we know that, and yet we often spend so little time with them. We focus on things that we feel are more important, yet spending time with our people is probably the most effective use of our time, certainly in terms of return and benefits.
We will achieve much more than we ever could sat in an office or staring at a computer screen.
We do need to be aware though when we visit that we don’t fall into the trap of Seagull Management, this is where we fly in, dump all over them and fly out.
In my previous company this was the experience when senior management visited us in the regions, and nothing could be more demotivating.
My recommendation to anyone visiting their team in the regions set up an agenda, which includes formal, informal & social meetings as well as some free time for impromptu individual meetings.
In the formal meetings get the teams to give a presentation of their work, this allows them to tell you what they are doing, show pride in their work, and it also gives us an opportunity to say well done. It makes our teams feel appreciated.
In the informal meetings this allows for the teams to set the subjects and raise things that are important to them. These informal meetings are also important because not everyone has time for the social meetings, either due to family commitments or work commitments, and it gives them an opportunity to speak with us about things which are important to them.
Social meetings are also important, these take us out of the office environment, they break down the barriers, and people to see us as people not just leaders, and this can then strengthen the connection and engagement between us.
Finally, leaving time for impromptu meetings is important, it reinforces that we are there for them, and not all people feel comfortable raising things right away, so we need to leave some time for these people to come and speak with us.
I mention all of this because I do believe that this is very important, and that we can all do better at it, I know I can.
The feedback I received from my two visits was positive and reinforced the importance of the time spent with the team, and will now encourage me to do even more and better next time.