Story: I had an incredible office on the executive floor, with a spectacular view overlooking the river valley at my last company. In fact, upon reflecting over my long career, I marvel at the some of the offices I’ve had in my role as a company officer. As an example, my office at a Fortune 50 company, where I reported directly to the Chairman, was probably 600 sq. feet, had its own bathroom, shower, and the walls were made of exotic wood (geez, likely pillaged from some rainforest). Frankly, I felt a little puffed up at the time (in the early 90’s), with my big office, Italian suits, etc. My office decision making would be much different if I were a CEO today, although my thinking might be unduly influenced by the fact that I’m unpacking (post retirement) too many boxes of souvenirs, books, pictures and other paraphernalia collected in my former position. Yup, if I was brutally honest, the primary utility of my last office was a storage room for my stuff. I was rarely seated there. (Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t need it but I shamelessly liked it).
Key Point: As leaders of people, I believe we ought to be spending most of our time getting results, connecting solutions to problems, disrupting or innovating processes, and developing others. Most leadership activity ideally involves speaking with others face-to-face, or at minimum, digitally. One way or another, leaders are in some form of conversation constantly. Of course, we all need some alone thinking time and our front porch, Starbucks, or a park bench are wonderful surrogates for the traditional office. With cloud based communication and productivity tools, the content a person needs to run a business these days should be accessible 24/7 on a mobile device, wherever one goes. Therefore, I wonder whether leaders should be spending any material time in an office at all, and certainly not on some isolated executive floor? Why not give those offices to the very important, small minority of individual contributors that do specialty, mostly isolated, expert work? Is it time to make ALL people leadership offices go away? Be honest about what you do professionally. Where are or should you be spending most of your physical time? Do you think your ego can handle that assessment? Does your ego say, “you’ve been waiting a long time to get that office, don’t you dare give it up now. You deserve the status difference.”
Lead Yourself Move:
- Ask yourself honestly where you should be spending most of your time to do your best work? Go there.
Lead Others Move:
- Why not set the example by getting out of your office and spending time where the people you lead and/or your key stakeholders are? When you go to the place where you can visually see how work is being done, you will become more insightful and helpful. It takes courage and the emotional maturity to appreciate that your leadership effectiveness comes from meaningful contribution and not the view.
No offices in Personal Leadership,
One Millennial View: As someone who has never inhabited a prestigious corner office, I respect the idea that an executive may not need one, however I think it would be extremely petty if I ever thought less of an executive for wanting/earning/having/enjoying a killer workspace. After all, unless you’ve had a say in designing your entire company’s office plan, what control do you have over it anyways? I see a lot of beauty in striving for an awesome office. It’s still a “thing,” and goals are great. I can also comprehend why it’s unnecessary, but I think we Millennials should be a lot more concerned with who our leaders are as individuals, not what’s beyond the door with their name on it.
Edited and published by Garrett Rubis