CEOs, Step into the Front Lines or Risk Losing Touch

Leading change is both a top-down process and a bottom-up process. The goal is to educate and energize colleagues at every level, especially those on the front lines, about the power of your plans, and to be educated and energized by the pragmatic wisdom of their experiences. Change programs work when they shape the behaviors and unleash the enthusiasm of the people closest to the work — the technologists who write code, the front-line employees who interact with customers, and customers themselves, who have the deciding vote on whether a company is doing something worthwhile. Put simply, it’s hard to reach people’s hearts and minds if the CEO’s head is in the clouds.

There seems to be something of a trend among high-profile executives championing ambitious plans for change — stepping down from their lofty perches and into the trenches of the business.

Recent reports described how Laxman Narasimhan, the new CEO of Starbucks, spent several months…

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This article was written by Bill Taylor and originally published on hbr.org