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Advantages of Leading from the Front Line

Many years ago while I was finishing my university studies, I had a brief stint at yoga apparel company working in their Customer Education Center (i.e. call center). At this company all head office staff were required to work in a retail store once every 1-2 weeks to get close our customers. This tactic was helpful not only in having us engage with product conversations, but also to learn more about our customers: what is their retail experience, what are they looking for, what questions do they ask, how can we better serve them?

This is a tactic I encourage managers I work with to embrace. Although having 10-20% of time working on the front line isn’t feasible for everyone, especially at senior leadership levels, dedicating time regularly to doing the job of your team or participating in their routine can have great benefits:

  • Find inefficiencies: the easiest way to find something that isn’t working is to do it.

  • The customer voice: their direct voice will resonate better, and puts you in the direct position to learn about your customers.

  • Team engagement. Working the front lines with your team will help to not only put you in their position, they’ll also see your dedication to understanding and improving their day to day jobs.

  • Compassion. Having a better understanding of what your team does will allow you to better understand the obstacles they face.

  • Keeps your finger on the pulse. The day to day operations, processes and customer conversations are the core of your business. There is no better way to stay connected than to be connected.

There are many small ways you can do this committ an hour a week to replying to support queries, do a sales qualification call, or setup a component of your digital marketing. If you aren’t able to take on some of your team's tasks based on the task duration or dependent continuity, there are alternatives such as shadowing or taking non-customer facing portions of a process.

How are you staying connected to the business as a leader? We'd love to hear in the comments.

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