Management Lessons from Max: Great Leaders Walk Around.

I frequently take my buddy Max, an Airedale, on a walk of our neighborhood and he always has his nose to the ground, sniffing out our path as we walk. In this process, he is always trying to understand what has happened since we last passed that way. There is a good lesson here for business leaders.


Business gurus are always encouraging leaders to step above the daily hustle of their business so they can work on their overall business strategy and this is unquestionably very important. However, too many leaders spend little time on the floor of their businesses trying to understand firsthand their hidden cost drivers, cultural issues or quality problems. I am here to attest that there is a great deal of value for the leader to also adopt the practice of “managing by walking around”.


In this regard, I cannot count the times I have learned very important information about a business by talking to a machine operator, looking at the warranty return area or by looking in a scrap bin. It is no exaggeration to say that what I have learned from these interactions has easily created savings projects amounting to tens of millions of dollars in my career. In some cases, it went far beyond that and the lessons learned saved the company from a certain financial failure.


For this reason, I encourage leaders to take daily floor walks so they can learn the details and nuances of their business operations. Seeing and experiencing something firsthand is much more meaningful than reading about it on a report. Just like Max, a great leader will “sniff out” those chronic problems that get lost in the reporting shuffle, and of greater cultural importance, drive home the fact that the boss cares about those little details.


Enjoy the walk…


Posted in Blog Post, Growing Businesses, Restructuring Businesses and Struggling Businesses


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