My favourite leadership growth and development strategy? Some call it MBWA or Management by Walking Around. I call it LBWA or Leadership by Walking Around. It is probably the least used engagement and connection tool and yet most definitely the best.
As a turnaround executive, I see lots of businesses in various stages of lifecycle and condition. In my time, I have had two unique and at the same time, similar businesses that I was working on. Similar because they were both customer service organizations, they were both staffed with about 1,500 vibrant team members and they were both in danger of being outsourced or ‘off-shored.’ Unique or dissimilar in that they were 10 times apart from each other and their corporate cultures were polar opposites.
However, within these two businesses, the team members and the managers that ran them, taught me a lifetime of lessons about leadership.
From some management book, I read a hundred years ago, I learned about the concept of MBWA (Management by Walking Around). I have never been enamored with the term ‘management’ because it refers to people who spend their work lives ‘managing’ systems and analyzing data to ‘control’ people. I always refer to people who passionately spend their lives working wit,h and through other people, to achieve a common goal ‘leaders’ regardless of what corporate title they hold. That is why I refer to the practice of MBWA as LBWA or leadership by walking around.
Back to the two Call Centre businesses that taught me my most valuable leadership lessons… Both businesses were staffed by incredibly dedicated people. Eager to learn. Craving to make a difference in the lives of people they touched. Previous senior leaders saw these team members as ‘FTE’s’ or full time equivalents – numbers to be managed. What they showed me was the passion and enthusiasm they had to serve. How did I find out about this little secret that countless others before me had missed? LBWA. I learned more about leadership and what was needed in the business every day by walking around talking to and taking a genuine interest in the lives of the 1,500 plus people in the business. Stopping at each desk and asking them:
If they had pictures on their desk I would ask about it. If there were flowers on their desk, I would ask what the occasion was. If they were sitting on a yoga ball, I would ask why? Often, I would load a cart up with muffins, pastries, coffee, tea, juice and water and go from desk to desk serving them.
Both businesses were saved from being outsourced because of the ideas that I learned from where the real hero’s in business live – the frontline.
If LBWA is not part of your daily personal development plan, then you are missing the greatest opportunity for leadership growth and development in your business life.
Robert Murray is a Vancouver, BC based Business Strategy Consultant, partner at Incrementa Consulting Inc., #1 Best Selling Author, and International Keynote Speaker. For further advice, insight and inspiration on how to unlock your inner leader, follow Robert on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook.
The audio version of Bob’s #1 best seller It’s Already Inside is now available on Audible.Business, Business Culture, Emotional Intelligence, Growth, It's Already Inside, Leader, Leadership, Leadership Development, Life Lessons, personal development, Professional Development, Robert Murray, Robert S. Murray, Self-Awareness, Values