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The Walking Leader as it applies to MBWA by David Guerra, MBA

MBWA (Management By Walking Around) “refers to a style of business management which involves managers wandering around, in an unstructured manner, through the workplace(s), at random, to check with employees, equipment, or on the status of ongoing work. The emphasis is on the word wandering as an unplanned movement within a workplace, rather than a plan where employees expect a visit from managers at more systematic, pre-approved or scheduled times.

The expected benefit is that a manager, by random sampling of events or employee discussions, is more likely to facilitate improvements to the morale, sense of organizational purpose, productivity and total quality management of the organization, as compared to remaining in a specific office area and waiting for employees, or the delivery of status reports, to arrive there, as events warrant in the workplace.”1

The Walking Leader as it applies to MBWA.

While the premise of MBWA is to go in an “unstructured manner…at random” sounds great and the spontaneity of the getting out seems the best way to catch them off guard. It is also the best way to NOT get it done, to not make it happen. When you are out of being spontaneous what have you got? You have the uncertainty of not being able to keep them on the edge or on their toes, patiently or impatiently waiting for your arrival. Eventually, that uncertainty will lead to doubt. Once doubt creeps in, the want and will to do the MBWA becomes difficult and will lead to stopping all together.

The Walking Leader calls for the intentional manner of scheduling time, planning a route and leave the spontaneity to the conversations you will encounter. By planning and scheduling time ensures that you have the time set aside to get out there and walk around. Those you are walking around to see and meet will expect you and they too can alter their schedules, as well.

Now you may ask what about the randomness. Of course, you can always mix things up. Intentionally, mix things up. The Walking Leader encourages randomness but to keep things focused on allowing those you are walking around to see and meet to continue doing their job. Never let the spontaneity and randomness of MBWA become a distraction to the workflow. Then again, never let the schedule and planning become a distraction to their workflow as well as yours.

However, as the Walking Leader you should make MBWA part of your workflow. By making the time, effort, and interaction a part of your day’s workflow you are giving yourself the ability to obtain more information, achieve higher visibility, and of course, your ability to walk your talk leads to and lends to increased credibility.
Integrating the 20 rules of the Walking Leader allows anyone to go out and about the organization loaded with the tools which can be altered to fit any leader, leader’s mission and vision, as well as any organization’s mission and vision. The twenty rules of the Walking Leader are designed to empower any leader by making them the right fit for each unique situation found in about any modern workplace, no matter the industry.

Simply, being the Walking Leader is leading by example. Management By Walking Around is the method that allows the Walking Leader to lead by example. Leading by Example is how new leaders are made. Making new leaders is the primary mission and focus of ALL Leaders.


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The Walking Leader (dot) com’s Weekly Leadership Poll Question for this week (09/29 – 10/05) is: COMMUNICATION SHOULD BE A TOP PRIORITY FOR ALL LEADERS? (click here to answer)

Communication is the only priority. When it comes to leaders becoming leaders, staying leaders, and making new leaders communication is king. By this I mean there is no other form that will convey the message and sustain the message greater than communication.

Communication in all its forms is what drives leadership.

Whether it be written or spoken, the message of the leader to her followers and the message of the followers to the leader must be clear, concise, well read, understood and can be acted upon with impunity then the conveyance of the message is success. Why with impunity?

Impunity is defined as the “exception from punishment or freedom from the injures consequences of inaction“. Thus when the message is clear, concise and understood, there should be no worries about what actions need to be taken, as there is no misunderstanding. Unfortunately, not all forms of communications are this way. Most messages are riddled with ambiguity and most of all uncertainty. It’s a miracle any work gets done at all.

So, as the leader must lead by example it falls upon the leader to deliver any message (in any format) in a manner that the message is understood and can be acted upon. It is when a leader fails to deliver that caliber of message that the followers cannot act on the message. When open ended questions are asked the answers will vary almost to the level of missing the point of the question altogether and that is when the ambiguity and the uncertainty creeps in.

It falls on the leaders, all leaders at all levels of the organization, to ensure that they work on improving their communication skills. Whether it is practicing your speeches, practicing and honing their writing skills, or creating better graphics they have the responsibility to ensure the message is understood.

Of course, there are applications and software packages that will change text or create better looking designs but where is the leader learning to improve? If the leader turns over those functions of communication to a software package and washes his hands of personally improving the content then how is that leader getting better? The leader is not getting better.

The leader got into a position of leadership begin by doing the dirty work and the leader must continue to do that to dirty work even if it means cracking open a thesaurus, every once in awhile. Therefore, the leader must do everything he or she can to improve themselves personally and professionally. If they have to give the speech how are they going to get better there are no applications for that? What there is, is standing up in front of a mirror and practicing and speech over and over again.

Because the message is so important, communication IS a Top Priority. As I mentioned, Communication is what put the leaders in that position they are now. Communicating is what will keep them there. Communicating is how they will make new future leaders. And again as always, that is nonnegotiable!

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David G. Guerra, MBA
email: [email protected]
twitter: @daveguerra
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NEW ARTICLE: 5 Things All Leaders Must Do At The Start Of The Day

The article: 5 THINGS ALL LEADERS MUST DO AT THE START OF THE DAY is the next article by David G. Guerra. In this article David discusses what he sees as the 5 things all leaders must do just before and at the start of the business day. While a leader must wear many hats there are some that are non-negotiable. These five things are not the only thing a leader must do everyday but it is a foundation to being a great leader of which showing up is most certainly at the top of any list.

Read this brief 1200 word article and if you are so inclined there is an option to download the article in PDF format.