In today’s environment it seems a tug o’ war is omnipresent. Should I be at my desk orchestrating my Team or should I be in the trenches with my Team? The answer is “yes”!
To bring some clarity to the facetious “yes”, lets read a story about one of the world’s best leaders:
In the latter part of the 18th Century, a stranger was riding his horse close to a battlefield when he paused to observe a group of exhausted battle-weary soldiers digging a trench in what appeared to be an important defensive position. The leader of the section, though making no effort to help, was shouting orders and threatening punishment if the trench was not completed within the hour.
The stranger rode towards the group: “Why are you are not helping?”, he inquired of the unit leader.
The soldier gazed at the stranger dressed in civilian clothes with a contemptuous look: “I do not have to because I am in charge. These men do as I tell them, but if you feel so strongly about it, you are welcome to help them yourself.”
To the unit leader’s surprise, the stranger dismounted, removed his coat and helped the men until the trench was finished.
Before leaving the stranger congratulated all the men for their work and approached the unit leader.
“The next time your rank prevents you from supporting your own men you should notify top command – and I will provide a more permanent solution”, said the stranger.
The unit leader now seeing the stranger’s face properly for the first time knew that his perception of the stranger dressed in civilian clothes had been entirely wrong. Before him stood General George Washington, and with shocked realization felt the full impact of the lesson he’d just been taught.
(PS: How the heck did a group of farmers and tradespeople defeat the world’s strongest country? Perhaps leadership was a factor!)
Why is “yes” the answer to the initial question? What I take away from this story is that the battle for business is not waged in our corporate headquarters, nor the corner office, but rather every day in the trenches with our people on the front line. However, and of course, the corporate office plays a huge role in supporting our front-line client efforts. Business is a team sport.
So, the next logical question is “how” to allocate the time choices. Perhaps this will help. Ask yourself “What business are we in”? Ok so we are in the PEO business, but aren’t we in the customer business first and foremost? And, if we are in the customer business, being with them to understand their challenges will provide deeper insight into how to serve them better. No question about this.
What we are really talking about here is leadership, isn’t it?
Leadership is essentially a positive influence and example (in summary!). And, the closer we stay to where the business is actually happening, the better position we can be in to allocate the appropriate resources to ensure our company is adapting to customer needs and wants – no matter the strategic function.
As leaders, it is imperative to understand your success will be defined by your vision and influence, which will be dependent on your ability to connect with people. To connect with your people, you must get out from behind your desk. Be with them in every sense of the word, or “present” as you have likely heard a lot lately. A desk can inhibit our view of the world and thus our ability to succeed.
At McHenry Consulting, our Profit Management Practice addresses both top line and bottom-line enhancements. One way to boost the top line is to allocate your management resources in areas that provide the best path to successful business metrics. We perform a deep analysis and can provide you with a combination of operational and leadership best practices that will help you strengthen your financial results.