Are you deliberately placing yourself as a leader throughout your day—or is your schedule at the whim of circumstance? All too often I find my schedule filling up with urgent appointments to the detriment of truly important things I’m trying to accomplish.
There are any number of good places you could be at any moment: At your desk responding to emails, visiting with people at their workstations, cheering your child on at a soccer game, having dinner with a client, reading a book, going on a date.
One of the most important (and least discussed) decisions leaders make is choosing where and when they should position themselves. While every situation is different, here are a few factors to consider, so you can make an informed decision about where and when you place yourself:
- Where is your Main Effort? You can talk all you want about what your priorities are, but nothing speaks louder than your presence. Where you position yourself communicates what you think is important. Your main effort should be aligned with your key decision points, so co-locating with the main effort should provide you the information to make better choices.
- Where can you get the best view? Good information is the fuel of sound decision-making. Where do you need to be to see what’s going on? General John Buford spent most of the first day of the Battle of Gettysburg up in a seminary cupola because that gave him the best view of the battlefield. From there he maneuvered his units to thwart multiple Confederate attacks while keeping an eye out for his reinforcements.
- Where can others see you the best? Sometimes what’s most important isn’t what you can see, but who can see you. I remember as a company commander spending time with the mechanics on the night shift every once in a while. Honestly, I enjoyed the chance to get my hands dirty, turn some wrenches, and learn from them. Only as I was leaving did they share with me how important those visits were to them.
- Where do you not want to be? Other times the opposite is true—there are times and places where your absence can make a positive statement as well. Deciding not to visit an event can be seen as a vote of confidence in a subordinate leader. Don’t assume that’s the case, however. Make sure that leader knows that you trust them, that you’re available for them, but that you believe they can handle it just fine on their own.
What other factors influence where you place yourself? Where will you position yourself today?