Are you an invisible leader?

I’ve said before that part of being a great leader is that you let people do their jobs.

But some managers of managers and CEOs become so hands off they become invisible. Manage your people well and let them manage their people. But don’t step so far back that their people (or their people’s people) don’t know who you are or what you look like.

There is a whole lot of wiggle room between not stepping on your managers’ toes and stepping so far back that nobody sees you.

Get up from your desk and walk down the hall. Walk the floors. Depending on the size of your organization you might need to do this biweekly or weekly. Some managers should be on the shop floor every day. Remind your managers that you are interested and available to come into meetings. Host virtual meetings if you have to. You need contact-time with people at all levels, and they need to connect with you.

3 reasons great leaders need to be visible

  1. People are hungry for inspiration. To get to the level you are at you have developed a lot of great gifts. Share those gifts with the people around you. Share your ideas, your questions, your enthusiasm and just a bit of your time. Your people crave it.
  2. People want assurances. They want to know that you know what’s going on. And they want to know that they work for a company with a person at the top who cares about people. They want to be seen and they need you to be out and about so you can see them.
  3. You need to know what’s going on. There are things people aren’t telling you. It’s that simple. The higher up you go, the more you rely on people to give you good information. But there are things you are only going to know if you leave your desk and get closer to the business, the customers – the truths. Start seeing things from other people’s perspective by stepping into their shoes, not just reading their reports.

Think back. Do you remember the first time the big boss came in to talk to you? You got a little nervous. You wanted to say something smart. You handled it all right. You went and told someone, right? You got bragging rights for a minute. The attention felt good.

We can forget that something as simple as “hello” can make someone feel special, and comfortable.

Now, remember the bosses who were completely out of touch? You never saw them unless something bad was going to happen, so when they showed up you really got nervous.

Which boss do you want to be? I can tell you which one gets better results.

2 things you need to know about getting out and getting seen.

  1. People are interested in having an honest exchange with you. That’s all.Ask questions. Get to know people. Give folks a pat on the back. You don’t have to make small talk. You don’t have to let yourself get backed into a conversation you don’t want to have. You need to take an interest in the people who are working for you, and really see the work that they do for you. They need to know that you are interested in them, and that you know what’s what.
  2. You don’t have to promise them anything. But if you do you have to back it up.Some managers feel compelled to offer something, or promise something – especially if they haven’t been seen in a while. I repeat – you don’t have to promise anything. But if you do, even if it’s a small thing to you, you have to deliver because it won’t seem small to the person you promised it to. If you say you are going to follow up with someone, they will want you to follow up. Rightly so.

For some of you, getting out and being visible might be uncomfortable at first but the more you do it the more comfortable you’ll get. I’ll say it again, you can get comfortable being uncomfortable.

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Category: All, Manage your People, Managing high performers, Team building
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