Can you still ‘walk the walk’? Your people would like to know

by on October 17, 2011 · 2 Comments POSTED IN: HR Cafe
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Why do your subordinates respect you? Ideally, you give them many reasons: your patience, your firmness, your ability to communicate, your persistence, your emotional stability, your sense of humor.

But there’s one key driver of respect that managers often don’t take advantage of: your demonstrated ability to do what you ask your staff to do.

A caveat
To be sure, managers aren’t paid to spend all their time – or even the bulk of it – in the trenches. The manager whose head is deeply buried in operations may not see critical problems coming, or golden opportunities.

But nothing gets favorable notice quite like the boss pitching in to take a couple of customer service calls, or put up that piece of drywall, or produce that schematic drawing that has to be finished by this afternoon but everyone else is too busy to tackle.

When you act in this way, you show employees that you:

  • know what it’s really like to do their job, so your instructions about doing it are going to be realistic
  • don’t consider yourself so elevated that you’re unwilling to “get your hands dirty”
  • haven’t gotten “lazy” or “soft” from focusing on your managerial duties
  • have specific task-related skills that they can learn from, and
  • are a team player, as you ask them to be.

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2 Comments on This Post

  1. Michael Ringrose
    October 27, 2011 - 8:27 am

    It is interesting to read the comments and, on superficial reading, one readily agrees that is very good that the “Boss” can demonstrate that he also is capable of pitching in.  Needless to say, it all depends on the job. In many instances the fact that the person is the Boss probably derives from a demonstrated ability and capacity to do the job in the past, perhaps better than anyone else – hence he/she is now Boss.

    The function of the Boss has to be kept in mind. It is not, as you say correctly, to spend time in the trenches but to encourage, motivate, support, direct and correct those in the trenches.

    One also needs to take account of the passing of time and the fact that in many cases there are now people in the trenches, where ever they are, who are now younger, stronger and very capable of dellivering whatever needs to be delivered much more capably than the Boss and the Boss’s time is much more productively spent, in the interests of all the employees and the company at more appropriate duties.

    In military terms and in policing there is a continuing drive amogst senior officers to maintain the “macho” image of their youth when they were much more young and fit. Some never come to terms with the fact that life and time changes that and chasing young criminals, for example, is much more efficiently and effectively accomplished by young police officers. There are few things more amusing that looking at an aging screen actor in the role of a police officer endeavouring to leap over walls and boundaries and climb scaffolding in pursuit of a twenty-something year old. 

    What a Boss should and ought to do is be a truly authentic Leader and create the circumstances and environment whereby those he leads and supervises can accomplish their tasks in the most efficient and favourable conditions and circumstances and ensure that those who do accomplish their tasks are recognised and rewarded.  If he/she can do this work coleagues will not expect any hoola-hoops and gymnastics that are often set in place as photo-call opportunities and performed to impress someone even higher up the scale.

    Michael Ringrose
    http://www.eLeadershipGuide.com

  2. Michael Ringrose
    October 27, 2011 - 8:27 am

    It is interesting to read the comments and, on superficial reading, one readily agrees that is very good that the “Boss” can demonstrate that he also is capable of pitching in.  Needless to say, it all depends on the job. In many instances the fact that the person is the Boss probably derives from a demonstrated ability and capacity to do the job in the past, perhaps better than anyone else – hence he/she is now Boss.

    The function of the Boss has to be kept in mind. It is not, as you say correctly, to spend time in the trenches but to encourage, motivate, support, direct and correct those in the trenches.

    One also needs to take account of the passing of time and the fact that in many cases there are now people in the trenches, where ever they are, who are now younger, stronger and very capable of dellivering whatever needs to be delivered much more capably than the Boss and the Boss’s time is much more productively spent, in the interests of all the employees and the company at more appropriate duties.

    In military terms and in policing there is a continuing drive amogst senior officers to maintain the “macho” image of their youth when they were much more young and fit. Some never come to terms with the fact that life and time changes that and chasing young criminals, for example, is much more efficiently and effectively accomplished by young police officers. There are few things more amusing that looking at an aging screen actor in the role of a police officer endeavouring to leap over walls and boundaries and climb scaffolding in pursuit of a twenty-something year old. 

    What a Boss should and ought to do is be a truly authentic Leader and create the circumstances and environment whereby those he leads and supervises can accomplish their tasks in the most efficient and favourable conditions and circumstances and ensure that those who do accomplish their tasks are recognised and rewarded.  If he/she can do this work coleagues will not expect any hoola-hoops and gymnastics that are often set in place as photo-call opportunities and performed to impress someone even higher up the scale.

    Michael Ringrose
    http://www.eLeadershipGuide.com

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