The Heart of MBWA

Adi Gaskell points out that social media can be used to expand your reach if you plan to incorporate Tom's MBWA, Managing by Wandering Around, practice into your management style. Social media are good for connection. Tom's agreement on that score is obvious by his immersion in Twitter, tirelessly offering strategy tips and conversing with followers the world over. Yes, a social media presence is important and useful for leaders and managers to maintain open communication with their employees. We heartily agree, especially if they're following Gaskell's important reminder: "Candor is a given."

Gaskell argues that MBWA, in its original state of actually walking around is limiting. We think his focus on the method's lack of efficiency is misplaced. MBWA has, at its heart, the element of being there in person. Talking ... face-to-face. One of Tom's often-used quotes is from Texas Bix Bender: "A body can pretend to care, but they can't pretend to be there." We think there is an enormous difference in the quality of an interaction in person versus via social media. Looking someone in the eye, shaking their hand, laughing with them when in their physical presence creates a very different kind of bond than can be achieved over social media.

Consider Tom's message in this audio clip from The Little BIG Things: travel 5,000 miles for a five-minute meeting (with credit to sports agent Mark McCormack). Finally, see Tom tell the origin story of MBWA in this video, which concludes with him urging you to get out of your office and get "close to where the work is really done."

Keep up with your presence on Twitter, Facebook, and internal channels to maintain open communication. But leave your office, wander around, have an actual conversation in addition to the virtual one. If you want to practice MBWA, in its true spirit, you have to be there.

Shelley Dolley posted this on February 27, 2013, in Leadership.
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