No one has said it better than Woody Allen: “80 percent of success is just showing up”.
I won’t quibble about the math, but in leadership there’s a lot of truth in this. Leaders need to show up. Real leadership doesn’t take place sitting at your desk or even from hammering out emails. There are elements of leadership functions that might take place there, but the true front lines of leadership occur elsewhere.
Real leadership takes place when you show up.
And I’m not simply talking about showing up for the big meeting, the major conference and the staff retreat.
I’m talking about those unscheduled, unplanned sometimes impromptu gatherings that don’t show up on your daily calendar.
It’s the lunch room, where staff are pouring their morning coffee.
It’s the lobby where church members are chatting after the service.
It’s the factory floor where workers are going about the daily grind.
When leaders take the time and make the effort to show up in these unscheduled gatherings there are at least five huge leadership wins to be made:
1. You learn a ton about what’s REALLY going on.
You could gain more organizational intelligence when you rub shoulders with your people than you will any formal staff meeting.
2. You can noticeably boost morale.
Face it. When the leader shows up, people notice. And it matters.
3. You can catch people in the act of doing something right.
The best way to blow torch an organizational core value is to catch someone living it out. No better way to do that than by showing up where they’re hanging out.
4. You can provide real-time coaching.
When you saddle up next to a team member you have a unique opportunity to enhance their performance by sharing your own skills and experience.
5. You can spot your rising stars.
On the look-out for talent within the organization? You’re far more likely to spot it when you’re walking about than you are in a staff meeting.
30 or 40 years ago this was called “management by walking around”. But what I’m talking about is far more nuanced than merely strolling through the organization with a clipboard and a checklist.
It’s about taking a genuine interest in your people where ever they gather and acting on that interest to lead in and among them.
And it all starts by just showing up.
What leadership gains have you made by simply showing up?