There is an old adage about taking care of the land: “The best fertilizer for the fields is the footprints of the owner.” My lovely bride of 36 years and I have learned the truth of this proverb firsthand, on our small ranch. Nothing we do for/with our property is as valuable as actually “walking” it regularly. Through that process we get a sense of its rhythms, its pulse, its strengths, its needs.
The same concept holds true for those of us in leadership positions. If we get too busy to get out on the front line of our entities, and actually interact and engage with employees and customers we are doomed. Institutions only survive if customers show up, and continue to show up. Customers only show up if their interactions with the entity’s employees, volunteers, products, services, and software are satisfying.
The “soft” data leaders collect through that field-walking process cannot be gleaned by listening to quarterly reports, reviewing profit-loss sheets, examining performance data, watching the dashboard ticker on the computer, or listening to the self-reporting of the mid-managers along the way. That walking-the-field process is invaluable in making decisions about seeding, pruning, purging, nourishing, weeding, re-planting, fertilizing…
Gotta get out of the chair to make it happen.