Thursday, 20 August 2009

The Importance of F2F Visibility

The visible leader has the opportunity to influence. It's much harder (though not impossible) to inspire, motivate and develop your people remotely. If you remember the 5 Powers (see elsewhere in another article) - and most especially the one that I suggested has the greatest impact on the motivation and commitment of managers and staff; 'Referent' power - then it is apparent that this power relies upon the impact of a leader's attitudes, values, demonstrated abilities and, to an extent, charisma (more about this vexed subject soon). In an organisation like Virgin, Richard Branson cannot be visible face-to-face (F2F) to a wide enough range of people across their many organisations. Thus he has resorted to the use of PR and the media to remain a visible presence to the people of Virgin. Technology gives us the opportunity to stay F2F with everyone - through Blogs, Intranets, Vodcasts, Webcasts and the like. These have a very different effect to the old-style public meeting - where the speaker is a distant speck and acoustics are a struggle. Research indicates that an individual is far more likely to engage with a vodcast (where they are effectively 121 with the leader) than as part of a faceless crowd.

These technological routes are still though at best a substitute. Better by far to actually see the whites of the eyes of every individual and engage with them F2F and toe-to-toe. Certainly this must be the case for the key players and your immediate reports - a leader's time is clearly an expensive and scarce resource so good judgement is required - return on time invested should be the impact measure.

I would though suggest that this F2F visibility is a far better use of your time than attending yet another routine meeting....

Go out and walk the talk!

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