Yesterday I had a little reminder of how important it is for effective people to be visible and communicative.
At a client's offices, I am somewhat shut away for much of the day, only seeing those who come upstairs with the intention of speaking with me, or who pop their head around the door to say 'Hi'. I've found it a little frustrating at times, but the site is a working one, with heavy plant moving around- so quite prohibitive to just wandering about to see who you bump into. I do my best, stopping by to chat to people and building the relationships bit by bit.
Yesterday, I got a little payoff. A small reminder of why being seen and being approachable matters.
A lady approached me in the office and asked if I had a few minutes. I said sure, and asked what she needed. She seemed anxious, and reluctant to begin talking. I realised suddenly that she had a sensitive matter to broach, and was worried about listening ears.
I offered to come and see her in her own office, at a time that suited her. We made an arrangement to meet at the end of the day, and she left, seeming happier.
When we met, the issue was a simple one, and easily resolved- but it had been bothering her for weeks. Meeting in her own space we were able to speak freely and without her worrying about being overheard. The best part? At the end of the chat she thanked me for making time, for being there and expressed her gratitude that I'd always told her I was there for the people. She'd finally decided to take me up on that offer, and see if I really would be able to help. She told me I'd passed the test. I drove home with a smile the size of Belgium.
There are many stories that tell us that the most successful military leaders were those that ate with their troops; there's a lesson here for managers, too. The small moments of connection are what people remember when they measure a leader's effectiveness.
And leaders- you are not alone. Stop thinking and behaving as though you are.