The day soldiers stop bringing you their problems is the day you have stopped leading them. They have either lost confidence that you can help them or concluded that you do not care. Either case is a failure of leadership. -Colin Powell
When I was the Vice President at Epcot, my assistant came into my office and closed the door. I knew that was not a good sign. "You have a problem," she started. "People are interrupting you all the time while you are trying to work. Any Cast Member who walks by your office thinks they can just drop in and talk to you. From now on, I'm going to tell people they need an appointment to see you."
From a time management standpoint, her plan made sense. However, from a leadership standpoint, being approachable and accessible is far more valuable than uninterrupted paperwork time. I told her, "Thank you for being concerned about me and coming up with a solution. However, these interruptions are my work—not the paperwork. Because Cast Members can freely come to me, I have a much better sense of what is happening in the park. They bring me small problems before they become big problems.”
Surpassing leaders need to spend the time and effort to reach all their people. As a leader, it is important to ask the following questions:
- Are you approachable?
- Do you purposely spend time out with your people?
- Do your employees come to you with problems, or are you assuming everything is great because you never hear any complaints?
Leaders who exceed beyond all expectations are highly approachable, trusted and connected to their organizations.
- How frequently are you contacted with issues? If you aren't receiving much feedback, don't assume you have no problem.
- Is it easy for people to meet with you? If not, remove the barriers.
An "early warning system" for problems, a better idea of what is truly happening at your company, great relationships with your employees
Excerpted from Chapter 44, Behind Closed Doors, of The Surpassing Life: 52 Practical Ways to Achieve Personal Excellence, thesurpassinglife.com.