Get to the Front Lines

tempUndercover Boss has become a hit TV series by showing big corporate bosses going undercover and discovering the reality of the work lives of their employees.

As leaders, we do not need to go undercover; we just need to get to the front lines of our businesses, listen, and learn so that we can understand our companies better.

We Need To:

  • Meet with customers large and small
  • Ride-along with our salespeople
  • Work with our workers in the plant or drive with our drivers out on the road


  • Support the Team: By getting out and interacting with the employees on the front lines, we tell them through our actions that they are important and that we support what they do each and every day.

The field is important, not the headquarters. Jack Welch (Former CEO of GE)


  • Learn the “True” Truth: Getting in front of customers and meeting front-line employees gives us the opportunity to learn the “true” truth. That is, we learn what is really happening, not the truth as filtered through the various layers of management between our offices and the front lines.


  • How well has our vision, goals and objectives been communicated throughout the organization?
  • Why do customers really buy from us?
  • What do our salespeople, production workers, drivers really do each and every day?
  • What roadblocks or hurdles do our employees face that prevent them from getting their jobs done?


Leaders should maintain contact with the front lines and with customers. This allows for truthful information gathering unhindered by the filters (and personal agendas) of the different layers of management. Skills for Success: The Experts Show the Way

  • Re-communicate the Vision and Goals: Inevitably, we find that the vision and goals that we have so well and clearly articulated to the organization (at least in our own minds) are not at all clear to the employees on the front line. Walking around and visiting with these employees gives us another opportunity to re-communicate and reinforce these goals and objectives.


In short, getting to the front lines helps our businesses succeed.

You have to understand what is happening on the ground. You have to be able to see what works and what doesn’t and to adapt quickly. Otherwise you’ll spend years running plays that have no chance of succeeding. Jonathan Starr (Founder of Flagg Street Capital)



About David Shedd

David has been a President - CEO - COO of an up to $350M group of manufacturing, distribution, specialty retail and services companies, having led 22 different businesses from turnarounds to start-ups to fast growth companies.
This entry was posted in Business Acumen, Leadership, Team / People and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s