Connecting With Your Company: Staying Plugged In

August 31, 2015 2:34 pm Published by

Connecting-with-your-companyOne of the challenges of being a business leader is that you actually have to lead. Part of what that means is that you’re no longer just “one of the guys or girls”—you’re supposed to be out front providing vision and the resources required to accomplish that vision. You have to take a big-picture approach to things. You can’t afford to get mired in minutia. That doesn’t mean that details aren’t important (they are), but you have to have a broader vision and steer the company—making adjustments when and where necessary.

One thing that can lead to, however, is a degree of isolation. A lot of leaders find themselves almost cut off from the day-by-day issues that their employees face. And that’s not a good thing. If you’re out of touch with daily operations, you can find that your “big picture” is no longer sustainable.

What can you do to stay connected to your company—to stay plugged in to what’s actually happening on a day-to-day basis? Here’s what one well-known CEO does.

Charlie Ergen is the founder of Dish Network. Some people love his management style—and others hate it—calling him the meanest boss in media (and even referred to by the Hollywood Reporter as the most hated man in Hollywood). For years, however, Charlie performed a particular task that most CEOs wouldn’t touch: He signed every check the company wrote.

Many people would consider that a colossal waste of time for someone in Charlie’s position. But there was a method behind his madness. That simple task kept him in touch with what the company was doing. You can tell a lot about your company by tracking how (and when and why) you spend your money.

These days, Charlie Ergen only signs checks in excess of $100,000. But he still does it for the same reason. It only takes him a few hours each week, and it helps him keep his finger on the pulse of the business. If the company bought new enterprise software, he knows about it (and can ask why it was necessary). If the company built a new building, he’s aware of that—and how it will impact the business. He’s got specifics he can address when he meets with his staff. It’s not a matter of philosophy or vision—he can talk to them about very specific, measurable actions. It keeps him plugged in.

So, should you start writing all the checks in your business? Not necessarily. It works for Charlie Ergen, but that doesn’t mean you have to do the same. But should you stay plugged into the company? Absolutely! Maybe that means spending an hour or two a week on the assembly line, or sitting in on customer service calls, or doing something else that a president or CEO normally doesn’t do—just to stay connected with what’s really going on in your company.

What do you do to stay plugged into your business?

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This post was written by Chuck Kocher