September 26, 2019
This week, on my way home, I stopped in Fargo, North Dakota. ND was the last of the 50 states I had yet to visit. By spending a night in Fargo, I could check the box. All 50, done.
I’m not sure why this was so important to me. Except that it was a goal, something I said I would do. And now, In now, in finishing it, I kept my word. But more than that, in finishing it, in seeing all 50 states, I saw things, I learned things, I became a better leader. See, you can’t manage what you’ve never seen before.
And that’s the point for the week.
In my career, I’ve had the privilege to lead organizations I could touch end to end in an hour. I’ve also led groups of of over 8,500 people that would require a week or more to get around. But in every case, I have done just that. I have gotten around.
And in doing so, I’ve met people and learned things,seen things and uncovered opportunities that I never would have had I sat behind a comfy desk at HQ.
My desk here isn’t particularly comfy. That’s on purpose – for a lot of reasons. But among them is this: a reminder that nothing truly important happens behind it. Instead what matters happens closest to our customers, closest to where our work gets done.
Most of the states I’ve seen have been in visiting customers or front-line associates. I’m a better leader because of it.
Keeping my word, well, that’s a big deal. But it pales in comparison to all that I’ve seen, all that I’ve learned, all the hands that I’ve shaken, all of the eyes I’ve looked into and all of the lives that were made a little better because people forgot for a moment who was in charge, and thought instead about the incredible possibility of a tomorrow when all of us work together toward one common goal.
So, get out in the world, get close to the work.
If you like the blog, you’ll love the book. To purchase a copy of Phillip’s book, The Not So Subtle Art of Caring: Letters on Leadership, from John Hunt Publishing, London, please follow this LINK. “Letters” is based on 85 story-backed lessons Phillip used while leading actual teams to accomplish extraordinary things. It is an outstanding resource for those who wish to commit to becoming the sort of leader that people WANT to follow.
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