Story: In the popular TV show, Undercover Boss, employees believe they are training a job applicant that may be hired yet they are actually teaching their CEO. “More often than not, the ‘undercover boss’ can barely perform the tasks she or he is supposed to be learning, “ according to On The Edge author and mountain climber, Alison Levine.
As they patiently teach the newbie they “share their thoughts on their careers or what they think of the company, and ideas for improving the products or ideas,” writes Levine. She adds that this is akin to the leadership style of Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg. “He doesn’t spend his days holed up in some decked-out office up on a penthouse floor, disconnected from the rest of his employees… Rather, he strategically positioned his desk right smack in the middle of the common workplace at Facebook…His message: we are all in it together.”
Lesson: Each featured undercover boss gets multiple wins: a first-hand experience with the pressures and joys of working on the front line, insights for improvements, what it feels like to be taking orders rather than giving them, and what if feels like to not be the most able person in the room. The CEO builds a direct, emotional bond with some employees and, when the rest of the employees and show watchers discover the CEO’s willingness to be a follower who’s humbly learning from others, then recognizing and rewarding the employees from whom he learned. Those connective leaders become role models for such behaviors and generate greater value and visibility for themselves and their firms.
Keep Messages, Rules and Requests Simple And Brief….