How to keep your feet grounded as a leader
Companies are something fascinating. Companies are a wonderful reflection of the diversity of us humans. All the creatures that creep and flee in God's wonderful zoo! And what these different people do in our companies there! Istn´t it amazing?
A wonderful breeding ground
The head office happily increases its cost allocation every year in order to solve problems that would not be there without the head office. The company closes the fiscal year with a top result. This is reason enough for the executive management to launch the next "cost cutting" program. And now firms are also going digital: the HR department is getting maximum transparency through a new process. And I as the boss no longer talk with my subordinate during the target discussion, but we now jointly stare at the screen to fill out the online target deployment form correctly. Companies are a wonderful breeding ground for all kinds of nonsense. I don't know about you, but I think that's great! Actually, we should make movies about this. If only it wasn't so tiring.
The danger of getting carried away
Leaders have a very important role in the company! Why? They have to bridge the gap between their companiy´s top executive team and ... the real world. Sure, management needs vision. They have to worry about the big picture, keep their „heads above the clouds“. The danger is to float in abstract strategies, to take off and lose contact with the ground station. A question for you, if you have responsibility for employees yourself: When was the last time you gave 30 minutes of your time for a personal one-on-one conversation to an employee who is one, two or three levels below you filling a role? Not to make announcements, distribute tasks, but simply to ask: - How are you doing? Which problems do you face in your role? - Does the way we proceed as an executive team make sense from your perspective? - What could help you to do your job more easily? How long has it been since you have had such a conversation? If we can't find time any more to talk with our employees about their view of things, how solid then is our own picture of the real world? Can we still build the bridge at all? Or to put it another way: what signal do we send to our employees if we constantly postpone or even cancel their regular appointments with us: the boss has more important things to do than talk to you!
My piece of advice
Hence my piece of advice: decide consciously and disciplined, again and again, to invest time for one-on-one personal meetings with your employees. Even 10 minutes are valuable. Ask questions and be honestly interested! Use the view of your employees to get your feet on the ground of reality again and again. Ask for feedback from time to time to develop yourself further. Personal one-on-one talks are a seemingly small thing, but have a big effect. Yes, our time is limited. There are so many other important tasks as a manager: here a report, there an evaluation, or preparing a decision paper. Nevertheless, the effectiveness that you as a manager gain through honest and open face-to-face meetings more than outweighs this. And one more thing: In our digital age, there are supposedly employees in our companies who apparently cannot speak or pick up the telephone. They thrive to do everything online or via email, even if the target person is sitting just one desk away. Please: talk to these digital "nerds", too! In person. Also "Nerds" are humans, to whom personal conversations might have a positive impact. ☺