In the Trenches

Photo by Rodion Kutsaev on Unsplash

Get in There and Build Loyal Leaders

“A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” — John C. Maxwell

My first corporate experience was at Hewlett-Packard many years ago, where my bosses, Bill and Dave, encouraged leaders to “manage” by wandering around the office. Many years later, the lesson remains valid: To be a great leader, one who inspires others to greatness, work side by side with all of your employees. Try these three things for a big payoff:

Be Very Clear on Objectives

This one is most natural for successful leaders. Do what you’re good at. Paint a vision of success. Use SMART goals for clarity. Articulate what outcomes are ideal and provide a road map to get there. Involve the leaders of the effort in planning and communicating along the way.

Jump In

Surprise people here. Do the “donkey work” along with the interns. Show up for the end-of-day marketing push to get the promotion out.

“No, I have no agenda, I’m just here to help. What can I do?”

Be visible, be connected. Visit with the receptionist or the evening security guard. Don’t make a speech, just work along with the group you’re with on what they’re doing. Ask lots of questions and then really listen to the answers. Be curious. Sit in the cafeteria and eat your breakfast or lunch with different groups. If this is new for you, power through the surprise that people will show — remember that it’s a positive surprise. Remember the show Undercover Boss? You don’t have to put on a disguise or camouflage, but do show up with open eyes and an open mind.

Lead by Example

Encourage your direct reports and other leaders to do the same. Be creative about looking for those who are unsung heroes, and then sing their praises. Find obstacles that you can help to get out of the way. Adopt an attitude of service, showing that you really believe that you’re all on the same team working for the same goals. Encourage creativity. Soon you will have people sharing new ideas for improvement in their areas because they want to make the company even more successful. You have made them feel important.

Do the same thing with your customers and strategic partners. Have check-in calls or visits to see how things are going. Unsolicited and not as “follow up” to see if issues have been resolved when there have been problems. Ask lots of questions about them, their businesses, and how you can be of better service. Continue to “wander around” in these relationships by occasionally sending articles, pictures, or gifts that may not be directly related to your business interactions, but are very importantly related to your human interactions.

Your Reward Awaits

You may initially be met with astounded faces. You will be rewarded with loyal employees, customers, partners, and maybe even new friends.

An Executive Leadership Coach is a powerful ally in making bold changes to your Leadership for remarkable breakthrough results. For more ideas contact BreakAway Leadership Coaching founder, Karyn Grant, at [email protected] or visit