As you may know, I’ve recently taken a job with the Penn State women’s basketball team to assist with community outreach and leadership development. One of the main reasons I accepted the job was the chance to work under head coach, Coquese Washington’s leadership. I still have my business on the side, but this opportunity was simply too good to pass up.
From our first conversation about her coaching philosophy, I knew Coquese was that rare kind of leader who people willingly and passionately follow. That was confirmed when I observed her first hand with her team last year during the two team building workshops I facilitated for them.
And my first week in the Lady Lion basketball office solidified it some more! As the year goes on I’ll share some nuggets from her leadership that we can all learn from.
This week, the lesson is what I call “management by walking around.” I noticed that Coquese doesn’t have a printer in her office and every time she prints something, she has to walk down the hall by all the assistant offices and my desk to pick up her copy. This happens a number of times a day.
Yesterday I commented that she should have a printer in her office. I found her reply uncommon among leaders obsessed with efficiency! She told me that she used to have one in her office, but noticed that it resulted in never leaving her chair. Though she doesn’t spend tons of time at her desk given the other demands of her job, she could easily find herself at her desk for stretches of time with no interaction with her staff.
So, she took the printer out so that she’s forced to walk the hallway and make small talk with her assistants and support staff. I’ve heard her numerous times ask people how a meeting went or about a member of their family. Seems like a “little thing” doesn’t it? There are no little things when it comes to great leadership because all those little things add up to building a culture in which people feel valued and cared for no matter what their role.
How well do you “manage by walking around”? What small adjustments can you make to help you get better in this area?