LBWA: Leadership by Wandering Around

If you ever worked with me, you know I’m in constant movement. Walking around. Chatting. Thinking. I’ve always done this, it came naturally to me and I never understood why I’m doing that. Now I know – it’s LBWA – Leadership by Wandering Around.

This is a common method, widely known as MBWA – Management by Wandering Around. Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group is famous for this. I use the term Leadership, because I don’t like the term management – I’ll write a post on this topic.

Why do I wander around that much? There are two reasons.

  • I think. 70 % of what I do happens in my head. And the best way for me to concentrate is to walk around. In most cases in combination with my headphones and non-disturbing music.
  • As a servant leader it’s my job to be there for the team. At any time, any place. So I have to move, being there. Wandering around allows me to know what’s happening and where I can help.

Thinking & Discovering

Building models in my head and thinking them through from all perspective is one of my greatest pleasures. I love thinking. Walking around gives me the peace to concentrate. Besides that I collect a lot of impressions. I also like to sit at different places and view things at all possible angles possible. Viewing problems from all perspectives allows me to come up with better solutions.

Back in the days when I programmed a lot, our M Cube offices were located at the Landwehrkanal, one of the canals in Berlin. I often just walked around the canal, crossing bridges and basically moving in circles. I could debug complex programming problems just by running them through my head. Then I sat down and wrote down the solution within minutes.

Probably I developed these skills in my childhood. We used to spend our family summer vacations in Italy – in the middle of nowhere. In that time I strolled around the woods and was totally immersed in my thoughts and nature.

Servant Leadership – Being there

As a servant leader your main job is to be there for the team. You have an overhead role and your job is to remove all obstacles for your team. But as teams and organisations grow it’s hard to know what’s happening. That’s why you have to go looking for it.

That’s why I walk around a lot. Sit in the kitchen where most people pass-by eventually. I do it to identify problems and areas to help out. I want to be available and support.

My own team is great without me, so I spend more and more time away from them with the intention of helping the other teams. If  my team needs anything, they just contact me via Slack oder video call on Zoom. In most cases we can resolve their obstacles remotely – otherwise I’ll just quickly run by.

To support this workstyle I’m currently experimenting with an ipad only approach. This makes me much more mobile and keeps me moving 😉 – I’ll probaby share my findings how this works out for me soon.

 

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