Walk like a leader
(Story inspired from Leaders in London.com)
So, you’re shut away in your office, in conference calls, in meetings, racing around with an urgent look on your face. I just want to remind you to slow down and walk like a leader.
“You’re focusing on ‘the work’ and forgetting that people are the leader’s work. Look up and connect with people. Look them in the eye. Really connect. Do it when you walk”.
The CEO of a global organization gives us his story;
“I was in a meeting in my office with a colleague. She’s going to be a real star and a great leader. When you think people are great, tell them, and always tell them how you think they can be even better. I told her:
“‘You’re going to be a great leader, but watch one thing: you’re always rushing everywhere, looking at your mobile, consulting your notes, you’ve obviously got important things on your mind. You’re focusing on ‘the work’ and forgetting that people are the leader’s work. Look up and connect with people. Look them in the eye. Really connect. Do it when you walk. I’ll show you what I mean.
“We walked down to the canteen for lunch at her speed – fast, urgent, no time to waste.
“We walked back into my office better connected than when we walked out. And the people we spoke to knew that we weren’t rushing from them to something important. THEY were the something important.”
‘Now, we’ll walk at leader speed’, I said to her on the way back. We walked slow, acknowledging people and stopping to chat half a dozen times.
“It took five times as long to get back. But, we connected half a dozen times with people at all levels of the organization. We chatted about sport, bits of work, all kinds of things. We walked back into my office better connected than when we walked out. And the people we spoke to knew that we weren’t rushing from them to something important. THEY were the something important.
“I always say to people, think of how slowly Nelson Mandela or Bill Clinton walk to a lectern to give a speech or walk around talking to people. Even when he was young, Mandela didn’t rush. He’s always walked at leader speed.”
So, there you go. Your challenge this week is to stop rushing around importantly and walk at leader speed. You set the tone. How you keep communicating and connected with people is as important as what goes on behind those closed doors. Tell them as much as you can. Over-communicate. Don’t retreat into a decision-making shell that people feel excluded from. You’ll lose their commitment to what has to come next if they feel excluded from the decisions they are asked to carry out.
av Lisa Arnborg