Executive Coach Executive CoachExecutive Coach
Scott Eblin offers his take on lessons in the news and his advice on your pressing leadership questions.

3 Tips for Leaders Who Want to Keep It Real

ARCHIVES
fotostory/Shutterstock.com file photo

In case you missed it, here's a link to a great article by The Washington Post’s Alexandria Petri in which she describes how Hillary Clinton attempted to make a connection in a recent speech to the National Association of Automobile Dealers. She shared a story that since the last time she drove a car in 1996, the Secret Service hasn’t allowed her to get behind the wheel. The response, apparently, was confused crickets.

Petri doesn’t just pick on Hillary. She also shares stories about how Mitt Romney and John Kerry tried to connect with voters when they were running for president and missed the mark. Her larger point is that it’s a dangerous thing when you’re a leader who’s so far removed from the experience of every day people that you can’t connect.

As a leader you’ve got to stay connected to keep it real. Here are three tips on how to do that:

1. Work One Week a Year in a Front Line Job

One of the reasons that the reality show Undercover Boss was so popular a few years ago is that people enjoyed watching the big boss learn what it’s like to work on the front line. You don’t have to be on TV to do that. Starbucks is well known for making sure that their top execs spend one week a year working in a store. One of my clients in the hospitality industry took a week off from his leadership role in financial planning and analysis to work a week in housekeeping at a hotel in a major city. When I asked him what he learned, he told me the biggest thing was how exhausted he was after a week of stripping sheets and cleaning bathtubs. If you’re the boss, you likely have all kinds of opportunities to get out of your office and remind yourself of what it’s like on the front line. Why not make a commitment to spend at least a week there this year?

2. Leave Your Preconceptions in Your Office

When you go out on the front line, don’t look for data points that validate what you already think. Just experience it. Suspend judgment and leave your preconceptions in your office. Be open to learning something new.

3. Look and Listen More Than You Talk

Look for your opportunities to pitch in. Watch how the work actually gets done. Ask questions about how people do what they do and what they’ve learned along the way. Ask folks about their families, their hobbies, what they do after work. Be present and attentive when you do.

So, three simple tips for leaders who want to keep it real. What would you add to the list?

(Image via fotostory / Shutterstock.com)

Executive coach Scott Eblin’s goal is to help you succeed at the next level of leadership. Throughout the week, he’ll offer his take on the leadership lessons in the news and his advice on your most pressing leadership questions. A former government executive, Scott is a graduate of Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and is the author of The Next Level: What Insiders Know About Executive Success.

FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

    Download
  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

    Download
  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

    Download
  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.