Leadership by Wandering Around


Wandering around might seem like more the stuff that an aimless person does, but great leaders do it as well, and for very effective reasons. Janet Peterson over at Meridian Magazine recently wrote an article titled “Leadership Tool: Management by Walking Around.” She points out that the simple principles of getting on your feet and walking around, has all kinds of advantages for leaders of all kinds: from the top CEO, to the home teacher, to Jesus Christ himself who exemplified this principle.

Janet writes:

A bishop in Salt Lake City likes to spend a lot of his service time outside of his office. His rather affluent ward also includes an apartment complex with a transitory population. This bishop feels the best way to meet and reach the apartment residents is to walk around the complex, sometimes knocking on doors and other times talking to people in the parking lot. One evening he felt impressed to introduce himself to a young couple, who he learned were not members of the Church. They had moved to Utah from another state, were out of work, and didn’t know anyone. When the bishop invited them to attend church, they said they didn’t have those kinds of clothes. At the bishop’s request, ward members donated Sunday attire for the couple and their two daughters, and they started coming to church. …

MBWA, “management by walking around” or “management by wandering around,”…. [was] an innovative approach in the 1940s when Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard, the two founders of the computer company that bears their names, decided they wanted an “open” corporate culture rather than the closed-door, traditional mode of business. …

With MBWA, managers or leaders reserve time to walk through employee’s work areas to talk and be available for impromptu discussions. Managers spend time away from their desks and get to know individual employees. Managers also provide opportunities to visit with employees at lunch or in the hallways. …

Jesus Christ was the perfect exemplar of going about meeting and blessing people during his ministry in Galilee, in Capernaum, in Jerusalem, and in other places, and in the New World after His resurrection. One such instance is noted in Matthew 11: “And it came to pass, when Jesus had made an end of commanding his twelve disciples, he departed then to teach and to preach in their cities.”

While I think something like this could be very disruptive to productivity in a business environement—if not handled very carefully—it’s obviously a key principle in the work of saving souls as our Savior and many of his prophets have shown. It’s also something I’m not very good at. It’s easy to get stuck just doing the things “you’re supposed to do,” and forget to really connect with people for the opportunities to truly serve them. Or missing opportunities to talk and connect with people, by being busy with your smartphone, while you’re walking around church, the neighborhood, or your place of work.

I’m going to do a better job of MBWA by being a better friend to my Varsity Scouts (aka Teachers), possibly just popping by their houses on occasion, and definitely not missing opportunities to listen to them. What ways have you, or will you, apply this?

[photo: ALBOWIEB]
1 comment
  1. Very cool. I think many of us hide behind our computers, in our comfort zones and it is all about putting yourself out there. It is the missionary principle of opening your mouth.

    I just got released from working with the Teachers. I'm kind of missing hanging with those guys. But now I have a perfect excuse to be a wonderer as the Executive Secretary. I realized that I don't really know the whole ward and I need to get to know everyone better.

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