In his first book, Peters introduced us to the key concept of MBWA (Management By Wandering Around). MBWA does not mean leaving your responsibilities behind as you stroll through the nearest shopping mall. According to him, to "wander" with customers and vendors and our own people, is to be in touch with the first vibrations of the new. Pretty self explanatory!
To illustrate: in our highly digitised natural gas processing plant where I work, we have sensors that are connected to and closely monitor all plant conditions (pressure, temperature…e.t.c) and give instant feedback to enable instant response in emergencies. (Our plants are multi-billion dollar metals that deserve world-class monitoring and protection)
A key characteristic of effective leadership is its ability to detect changes in the eco-system and execute a seamless transition program that responds appropriately.
The nexus between MBWA and Prince Harry should be quite clear now. What on earth would a Royal and possible heir to the throne (King of England) be doing in war front you might ask (and I asked too!), particularly in a country notorious for insurgency, a drug-based economy and base for international terrorism??? Harry has spent about 10 weeks there now, and seems to be enjoying the experience of rendering service to his nation.
No pun intended, but you and I would quite agree that this isn’t a frequent occurrence in Nigeria, and by extension Africa (Where so-called leaders live in fortresses, and claim to defend the plight of the poor by ruling from those same palaces).
Harry has often been portrayed as the black sheep of the family, but his recent accomplishments speak volumes. The decision of the Royal family to allow their son to pursue his dreams also deserves applaud.
I believe Leadership largely involves experiencing and possessing the ability to relate to what every other person feels. If I can’t empathize with you, and relate with you on your level, why should I qualify to lead you?
Rick Warren in his classic “purpose driven life” talks about the strategy adopted by Saddleback, His Church. He says people who have had terrible experiences in the past, but overcame them (by God’s help of course!) are commissioned to lead and coordinate ministry arms that reach out to youths and others experiencing the same pain. In essence, the fact that you experienced and overcame a particular challenge puts you in a much better position to rescue those having similar experiences.
It’s not cast in stone that you must be an ex-evil (or have had a terrible experience) to help others, but the truth is adversity fortifies and places one in better stead to help others overcome. (I guess if Christ himself had to shed eternal glory momentarily and endure unimaginable pain to save us, then any serious minded leader must be willing to identify with his constituency)
And one more example: Barack Obama – I’m not exactly a fan, but I believe his life experiences, humble beginnings and past voluntary work have significantly aided his campaign. People are naturally drawn to those they view as having the ability to understand their needs and view points. God help Hillary as the Obama Machine seems to have stockpiles of ammo and WMDs that could keep up with the annihilation.
From a business perspective, David Packard had this to say about MBWA:
Straightforward as it sounds, there are some subtleties and requirements that go with MBWA...if it's done reluctantly or infrequently, it just won't work. It needs to be frequent, friendly, unfocused, and unscheduled—but far from pointless.
Here are some tips on how to practice MBWA:
- Include affected employees / team members in goal setting.
- Give frequent and meaningful recognition for a job well done.
- Interact with employees on an informal basis.
- Go to staff's work area. Meet them on their own turf.
- Ask for staff's opinions and listen with an open mind.
- Share non-confidential information with staff.
- Offset demoralizing actions and events by emphasizing what went well
- Listen 80% of the time and talk 20%.
MBWA works best when you are genuinely interested in people / employees and in their work and when they see you as being there to listen.
Time to add some credentials to our names folks! Check this out:
Adetayo Bamiduro, MBWA (Pretty cool! or what do you think???)