A leader I respect recently shared a frustration – “My people don’t think I do anything.” In the ensuing conversation we explored the silent things they do to help their team stay focused, and different ways to help them see the investment being made in their success. Leadership behind closed doors too often leads to communication gaps that are filled with opinions.
I am in the middle of a family project to document some letters my Grandpa received during his service in Europe during WWI as a leader of an artillery battery. The follow letter (unedited by me) came addressed simply to the Commanding Officer, Battery A. 123rd Field Artillery. It is dated December 16th, 1918 – Delton, Michigan.
Will you please inform about Private Henry C. Akers. The report came in to Carthage, Ill that Henry and his brother was both killed and his brother is not, and I haven’t heard from Henry since the 28 of July 1918 and I am so worry over him. Will you please be so kind and look it up as soon as possible and let me know. I wrote the war department at Washington D.C. and they said no report of any kind of mishap had reach thems but theys refer me to write to you.
Will you please tell me if the Battery A 123 F.A. is going to come across to U.S.A soon or when? Will thank you ever so much for your trouble.
Florence M – , Delton, Michigan
My guess is this an example of a ‘Do things as assigned’ activity from the job description of a leader. I don’t know my Grandpa’s response, but based on my time with him I am sure he dealt with it quickly and without a lot of fanfare. This 94 year old letter is also a testament that leadership has not changed all that much. There are some things you just have to get involved in as a leader that the rest of the world cannot see, or are just to busy to really notice.
Leaders – A good parallel to an open door policy is a transparency policy. A seasoned leader once shared with me a habit where they shared their personal list of problems they were trying to solve at their monthly staff meeting. They also asked for input/help from their team. Suprisingly (or not) over time they often received some very creative ideas and help
Followers – Why not ask your leader to share the top five three things that are consuming their mind/time right now?