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ChangingMinds Blog! > Blog Archive > 30-Jan-08


Wednesday 30-January-07


'Managing By Wandering Around' to many people may seem not like managing at all -- how does aimless meandering relate in any way to the clear direction of leadership? What will your people think of you if they see you just wandering and chatting? What will other managers, who are driving hard, say to one another? MBWA sounds like a mug's game, a lazy person's excuse for easy chatter. Yet it is a powerful method that has been used by savvy leader for many years.

An approach used by many managers is to get their heads down and get on with the job, which generally means a combination of sitting at the desk staring at plans and reports, plus an endless round of meetings. Yet in doing this it is easy to lose touch with what is happening in the wider organization. It is also very easy to become invisible to a wide range of people who might be forgiven for considering you as uncaring and out of touch with what is really going on.

The first and easiest benefit of MBWA is the morale-boosting motivation it gives to people when they see the boss showing an interest in them and what they do. What you learn in wandering about can also be quite different from what you get told in official reports.

When you first start wandering, of course you will get closed-mouth suspicion, but when people realize that you are there to learn, understand and appreciate, then you will get increasing respect and truth. And here is the core secret of MBWA: empathetic attention. If you give full attention to people and show concern for their feelings, they will rapidly bond with you and consider you a true leader. Followership, remember, is voluntary. MBWA is thus a core tool of leadership.

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