Leadership: One Easy Thing You Can Do Right Away to Improve Your Result
People who want to lose weight search for a magic program that will let them lose weight without changing how they eat or whether they exercise. Late-night infomercials tout systems that will turn you into a millionaire overnight. We crave magical solutions that are quick and easy and produce big results.
Well, I haven't found any magic diet programs, and I never saw a get-rich-quick program that really worked, but I do know one “magic” thing you can do to improve your results as a leader.
It doesn't require any special equipment. You don't have to take an expensive seminar. It won't take you a long time to learn.
Here it is. Show up a lot.
Half the Battle is Showing Up
Sounds simple, right? How could something so simple possibly produce an improvement in your leadership?
Show up a lot so your arrival won't be an event. If you only show up to deliver big news, the people who work for you will erect their defensive shields as soon as you appear on the horizon.
Those defensive shields make communication tough. But if you show up a lot, then your appearance is just a normal part of how the world works. The shields stay down and communication can happen.
Show up a lot to learn about your people. Reports and statistics won't get the job done. You need to see your people in action to understand them. Show up a lot and you'll learn all about what they do well and poorly.
Show up a lot so your people can learn about you. The best way for them to do that is by seeing you in person.
“Half the battle is showing up.”
Show up a lot so you can tell people what's important. You should have crafted your one or two simple messages about the mission and your people's part in achieving it. Show up a lot and you get more opportunities to share those messages.
Show up a lot so you can make small course corrections. Your life as a leader will be easier if you can make lots of small course corrections instead of a few big course corrections.
Remember, most effective supervision happens in the cracks in the system. Show up a lot and you've got lots of opportunities to make things right.
Show up a lot to learn about the real world. The real world doesn't come to you in your office, neatly formatted into reports. If you want to get an unfiltered look at reality, get out of your office and around the people who work for you.
But how much is “a lot?” The best answer to that question is: “More than you're doing right now.”
Make it a priority to get out among the people who work for you. Don't just swoop in then swoop out, either.
Pull Up a Chair
To get benefits from showing up you have to stay and watch and listen and communicate. You have to take every encounter with someone who works for you as an opportunity to communicate, coach, encourage, and correct.
One of my favorite tactics for a cubicle environment was to just pull up a nearby chair and sit right in the cube doorway. In the post-Covid world it's even easier. Just call them on Teams.
Don't expect instant trust. If you haven't been showing up much, your people will probably not trust you when you suddenly start acting differently. It will take time for your behavior to change their expectations. Hang in there. The benefits are worth it.
Showing up a lot is an easy concept to grasp, but you have to turn it into a habit. That takes time, a month at least, but probably more. And it takes effort and attention. In the beginning, you'll probably need to schedule your “showing up” time.
Showing up a lot won't help you lose weight or turn you into a millionaire overnight. But it just might be the one “magic” behavior that will make you a better leader.