In the realm of leadership, the age-old phrase “lead by example” carries more weight than ever before. The essence of leaders rolling up their sleeves and getting their hands dirty in the day-to-day work isn’t just a catchy phrase – it’s a strategic approach that can wield a remarkable influence on employees and the overall success of an organisation. Is this something that leaders in the industry should do, to better understand the culture and challenges their employees face?
Recently, the CEO of Lufthansa, Jens Ritter, spent a day working as a flight attendant as he accompanied flight crews on the German carrier’s long-haul flights to Riyadh and Bahrain. In a post on LinkedIn, he said he thought he knew the challenges a night flight entails, but to be customer facing, meaning – present, focused, and charming all at the same time when your biological clock is telling you it is time to sleep, was wholly different. The idea of management being present on site, should be encouraged and admired as it has a positive effect on staff, by helping develop the values that managers carry, and to motivate every member of the team to surpass their daily tasks. Should this become more of a formality for managers to work at ground level? Do these experiences assist management in acknowledging constraints the team may be experiencing and help with the overall decision-making process of the organisation? Further on from that, managers who are visible and approachable at ground level often earn the trust and respect of their employees. For effective leadership and team cohesion, is trust not an essential piece to the puzzle?
The act of a manager “getting their hands dirty” can also foster a collaborative culture, which can lead to better communication and cooperation among employees. The most exceptional leaders consistently acquire new knowledge and continue to learn throughout their careers, with their commitment to lifelong learning knowing no bounds. By getting involved at ground level, managers can enhance their own skills and knowledge with the opportunity to gain new insights, learn new skills and stay updated on industry trends. Is there ever a time we should stop questioning how we can acquire new knowledge?
The essence of leaders getting their hands dirty is more than just an admirable trait; it’s a transformative leadership philosophy that has a far-reaching positive impact. By actively engaging in the work, leaders empower their teams, boost morale, set a high standard of commitment, and foster a culture of learning and growth. Through implementing this approach, can organisations be guided by strong leadership but also propelled towards greater success by a workforce that is inspired, motivated, and aligned with collective vision? However, it is also worth noting that the focus with this approach is on identifying and solving existing problems, as opposed to preventing them occurring in the first place. Would the best combination have the main emphasis on proactive prevention, with the reactive approach reserved for occasional and infrequent use?
Written by Izzy McHattie, EP Business in Hospitality