"Jump into the middle of things, get your hands dirty, fall flat on your face, and then reach for the stars." — Ben Stein
In a recent Havard Busines Review post on advice for new team leaders a tip stuck out to me:
Get your hands dirty.
Jeanne DeWitt, Chief Revenue Officer at UberConference, explains this from her perspective:
Spend time doing the work that your team actually does. Not only does this help establish you as someone who leads by example, but you also learn first-hand about all of the different challenges that people experience every day. At UberConference, we have every new member of the team spend a week as a guest member of our customer support team. As a result of those experiences, everyone is far more connected to our customers, and changes to the product, tools, and messaging are implemented immediately because that first-hand experience creates passion. If you can understand what it's fundamentally like to be on the front lines, you have unique perspective when making larger strategic decisions and communicating them to your team.
Lean leaders should go to the shop floor and get their hands dirty by working on process improvement. People expect their leaders to be innovative. Allow others to see your creativity in action on the front lines. Leaders need to do more and observe less. Action is observation in full motion.
Leading by example sounds easy, but few leaders are consistent with this one. Successful leaders practice what they preach and are mindful of their actions. They know everyone is watching them and therefore are incredibly intuitive about detecting those who are observing their every move, waiting to detect a performance shortfall.
The best leaders get their hands dirty and a must for Lean leaders. Don’t be selfish and wash your hands clean. Don’t wait to solve the problems in front of you. Get involved and stay active. Be transparent, make a difference and watch the immediate impact you can organically create.