The Power of your Presence

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Here’s a quick story to remind you how powerful your presence as a leader is.

Several years ago, I took over a new business.  As I was walking through the manufacturing plant with the leadership team, I saw a forklift coming towards me from a perpendicular aisle.  I looked up and noticed there wasn’t a safety mirror mounted at the intersection.  I made a mental note of it but didn’t say anything to the team.

The next morning, I was walking through the plant and I came to the same intersection.  To my surprise, someone had mounted a safety mirror in the exact spot where I had been looking.

I learned 3 important lessons from this experience:

As a leader, people are watching you.  They notice the little things you do and say.  They noticed I looked up and saw something was wrong. Even though I hadn’t said a word, they knew I was concerned so they took action without being told.

As a leader, your minimal acceptable level is often the maximum level of your team. If I had walked through that intersection without noticing a problem, it might never have been addressed.  As leaders, if we walk by a problem and don’t acknowledge it, our people may think it’s acceptable.

If you want to make a difference, you need to get out of your office.  That quick walk around the plant signaled to the leadership team that I wanted to see what was going on and that safety was important to me. The only way you will be exposed to what is really going on in your business is to get out of your office and go see where the value is being added.

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