If you’re expecting to read an article about leaders who have died and “gone to the other side,” you are on the wrong post. What I mean by crossing over is embracing the idea that your team does not serve you, but that you serve your team. You are not there to do the best you can do for yourself but to do the best you can to bring out the best in others.
Not all leaders have crossed over yet. Let me give you an example concerning a leader I know and his quandary about which office to assign his new staff member. Francisco was a newly minted CEO. He was on the job just six months, following a long stint as the COO in the same organization. He had just made his first fire and new hire. Now Francisco was trying to decide which office to assign to the new person.
“I’m in a beautiful office with an excellent view,” he told me, “but the corner office that’s vacant is bigger and has two windows. I like my office, but I’m afraid if I assign the bigger one to the new person, it will make me look weak.”
Francisco had not crossed over—but at least, he’s sticking his toe in the crossover waters by asking the question.
What do I mean by cross over? I mean crossing over from leading out in front in the spotlight to leading from behind with your team in the spotlight. You could say it’s crossing over to servant leadership. And not needing to have the biggest office to prove you are the leader.
I asked another question. “Is there someone else in the office who might feel valued if he or she were given the corner office?”
“Well, Samuel has been with the organization ten years and has a tiny little office with no windows. And the corner office would be closer to his team. But what will people think about me?” he asked me.
“What do you think they’ll think?” I asked him.
“That I’m weak or that I’m intimidated by the new person?”
“What else might they think?” I asked.
“No idea,” he said.
“Might they think that your ego is strong enough that you don’t need to take the biggest office? That you are confident enough to give the person who not only would receive the most benefits from the larger office but also show that you value him for his good service?”
Much has been written about who gets the biggest, best office, desk, parking place, etc. Corner offices with double windows and a private bathroom have always been the biggest prizes. One reader noted that U.S. executives tend to take the outer offices with windows and herd the lower level employees into the center. However, in some other countries, managers are perhaps smarter and take the inner rooms so they can be more at the heart of things.
The latest trend is to assign no offices and expect people to move around to promote greater interaction, cross-fertilization of ideas and improved relationships. Time will tell how well that works.
The core issue is not the office so much as the reason the leader thinks the best position is important to have. If the manager needs the trappings of a corner office and a ginormous desk to feel like he or she is in charge, the message will be clear. When the leader crosses over to the understanding that leadership does not come from the best office, huge desks or assigned parking places, the entire organization has hope of becoming well-managed, well-organized and well-led.
What do you think? Does the boss need to have the corner office with all the windows? I’d be interested to hear your point of view in the comments below.
(cartoon credit:File: #72495638 | Author: cartoonresource)