Working The Halls, Something All Leaders Should Do

“Lincoln considered his meetings with the general public his ‘public opinion baths’. They ‘serve to renew in me a clearer and more vivid image of the great popular assemblage out of which I sprung,’ he told a visitor, ‘and though they may not be pleasant in all their particulars, the effect, as a whole, is renovating and invigorating to my perceptions of responsibility and duty.'” – Team of Rivals, Doris Kearns Goodwin

In Lincoln’s time, public officials were public servants. Many of the members of his cabinet took a pay cut to be there (although, there was still corruption). Something that was unique, at least to the modern observer, is that the White House was open to the general public. As such, Lincoln had time on his calendar to meet with the people he served – and anyone could show up. This helped him keep a pulse on public sentiment.

Reading that passage yesterday reminded me of something my first employer preached, something we called “working the halls”. It is a simple idea really. It means having interactions outside of your normal peers in order to get different perspectives. Sounds easy, right? It is something I have certainly failed to do at times during a remote working environment, and an area to improve on as my employer brings me and my team in a couple times a week.

Two of the most respected leaders I’ve met worked the halls masterfully. Knowing almost everyone by name, they weren’t shy about stopping by asking what I was working on, for my opinion on something, and seeing if I needed any help.

This is a simple yet effective way to lead more effectively.

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