Leading From the Front


Everyone is capable of leadership! Where there are leaders, there are followers, and with that comes responsibility. You, me, our managers, supervisors… all of us. You don’t have to be a supervisor to be considered a leader of your skillset in your work area.

Effective leaders lead from the front. They are role models and mentors. Leaders teach more than they tell, and they pay knowledge forward without hoarding information. Effective leaders stand in front of their teams and demonstrate the organization’s desired norms.

A leader from the front asks questions that can lead to mutual and supported decision-making. They are inquisitive, curious, and life-long learners. They want to know more and seek new information. They may ensure as well as challenge the organization’s managers have the tools to successfully practice their jobs. This can help managers gather feedback to direct and support their teams.

Active and regular role modeling is important to an organization. Followership can be at risk if staff sees their leader behave in a surprising way. When not all the information is known, perceptions can cause imaginations to fill in the blanks, causing gossip. Staff that have limited experience with leadership tends to not offer the benefit of any doubt. Staff look to both their formal and informal leaders for guidelines, as well as a sense of safety, to share their knowledge, experiences, ideas and aspirations.

Visiting teammates by “rounding” can counteract this effect. Visits can be scheduled, or on a pop-in/drop-in basis. Staff respond well to sharing the insights how they choose to perform their work. Rounding creates a feeling of support so staff can “show off” the pride they have in their work area. It gives them the opportunity to express their obstacles and barriers. Leaders who put themselves “out there” empower staff to step up and achieve more.

Rounding provides opportunities to demonstrate how the “walk is talked” in your area. Supportive leaders encourage their leading staff to do what they may already know and are sometimes hesitant to try. Visiting your staff and coworkers establishes rapport, models positive interactions, and establishes team norms. Appropriate social behaviors can be demonstrated, modeling positive interactions, and truly learning names can occur. After rounding, leaders can “brag” about key learnings, share the good news, and continue to set up their co-workers up for success, furthering support, growth and communication in all directions.

Leaders can encourage staff to become stakeholders –the “owner-operators” of our jobs that we are, being both taxpayers and government employees. Rounding can be rewarding because it can diffuse some bad practices, such as coworkers pressuring others to “not” be over-achievers, implying it makes them look bad by comparison. When leaders listen to staff in their work areas, they can undo some bad practices that squelch any future attempts forward momentum and creative problem solving.

Tary Paris is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.

Leave a Comment

One Comment

Leave a Reply