You Can’t Lead From Behind Your Desk

Man Sitting Behind Desk Working

Being in a leadership position means that you have a lot of things to think about at any given moment. It can be tempting for someone who manages others to simply sit behind their desks all day answering the phone and responding to emails.

However, this approach is not going to yield favorable results and your team members may perceive this behavior negatively.  Often times, front line workers, people out in the field, or those out on the sales floor every day, don’t get much time with their leaders.  This is where both workplace relationships, as well as job performance, can suffer.

To improve as a leader, create opportunities to get out there and spend some quality time with your employees. Do this and you will see many benefits.

Build Relationships With Your Employees

Simply taking the time to see your employees in action will show them that you care.  In addition, the time spent interacting can help to bring down any barriers that may exist between you and the employee.  Plenty of employees are shy and are uncomfortable speaking with their boss or someone higher up in the management team.  By spending time with them it gives the employee an opportunity to get comfortable and open up to you. By asking questions and having a conversation with them, you can build the relationship and grow together within the organization. Over time, employees will start seeing you as part of their team and will begin trusting you.

When you spend time with your employees it also creates a great opportunity for you as a leader to offer feedback and encouragement to them as well.  You can observe their performance firsthand. One of my employees makes field visits to people who are having problems with their neighbors or the streets and infrastructure near their property.  Occasionally I will join him when he makes these house calls.  This helps to improve our relationship while also fostering an environment where process or policy issues can be discussed.  In addition, I can observe just what this employee has to deal with on a daily basis which helps me to appreciate his perspective and work ethic much more.

Man and Woman Shaking hands and smiling.

Do the Work That They Do

If you’re the boss, you can sometimes become disillusioned to the work that all of your employees do every day.  If you are willing to get out from behind your desk and to go to work with your employees, you will be putting yourself right on the front lines.  Seeing, feeling, hearing, and experiencing things first hand is one of the best ways to learn about your people and what they actually do each and every day. In addition, by doing the work that they do with them, you’ll help to identify areas that can be improved or that need to be changed.  Finally, you will likely have a new appreciation for the work that they do.

In my line of work I try and spend a few hours every week or so doing getting involved with what my employees do each day.  Not only does this help me stay abreast of the current processes and challenges in our work, I believe that it also helps to improve my relationship with them. When I experience things like dealing with an angry customer or working around an unfixed software issue, I have a much greater understanding of what they do and what they need to succeed at their job.  This enables me to relate to my employees more while also letting me see firsthand the challenges that our team faces.

See Your Vision in Action

Another benefit of getting out from behind your desk is to see your vision as a leader being put into practice.  Every leader has to have a vision for what they want their organization or their section to be like in the future (if you need to create a vision, check out this article on Creating a Vision for Success).  The employees of that organization must also buy into the vision and must “see” it for themselves for it to be carried out.

When you get out of your office and get with your employees, you can see just how their actions and the products or services that they create fulfill your vision.  Moreover, if you see activities that are not contributing to the overall mission, then this is a great time to make changes.  Everyone on your team should be working hard to fulfill the organization’s core mission and vision.  Seeing it implemented firsthand will go a long way to promoting successful outcomes.

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