JS Tip 165: From the Leadership Workshops: Knowing Your People

Too many leaders are clueless.

Absolutely clueless.

They have no idea what’s happening in their organizations because they don’t communicate with those who know the organization best: the front-line workers and the first-level supervisors.

One of the reasons for the carnage of World War I (did you see War Horse?) was that the troops were in mud-filled trenches while the leaders were in French chateaus. (Eating hot food. Sleeping in beds. Sleeping between laundered sheets.)

According to Shakespeare’s Henry V, the young king, on the eve of the Battle of Agincourt, dons a soldier’s cloak and visits his soldiers. He talks with his soldiers. He listens to his soldiers’ complaints.

It’s this knowledge, this awareness, that allows him to address his army as “We few, we happy few, we band of brothers . . . .” (Act IV, Scene iii).

So our suggestion to leaders: Park on the other side of the building on Monday morning. Walk through the plant or the office and notice the people that work there. Stop and ask questions. Listen to—and, if necessary, act upon—the answers.

You’ll build trust. You’ll build relationships. You’ll build a community.

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