Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 5 July 2020

Why on the ground leadership is important

A leader or manager sets the tone for their employees and ensures quality control mechanisms are in place to look after clients

A leader or manager's personal engagement with clients helps quality control in businesses and helps maintain a company's reputation. istockphoto.com
A leader or manager's personal engagement with clients helps quality control in businesses and helps maintain a company's reputation. istockphoto.com

I am currently working on landscaping my garden, which has been on hold for some time. With Covid-19 and the cancellation of most events, it seems it is the right time to tend my garden. I chose a renowned landscaping company; a team who knew what they were doing and did not need much supervision.

Everything started well on the first day. The team arrived on time, marked my garden, and started digging, so I spent the day inside working from my home office. I did not supervise or check in on them because I assumed they knew what they were doing, given they were experienced and we spent a week of going over the proposal and finalising arrangements.

By the time I was done with work, the landscaping team had left. I was shocked as I started to review their work. Many of the plants brought in had burnt tips and were in very poor condition. What I got was not what I had agreed to when I commissioned the company.

The next morning the owner of the company paid the garden a visit. He was disappointed with his team’s work and apologised. As compensation, he offered a huge discount and offered to work free of charge on a side of my garden that was not part of the project.

His personal engagement reminded me of good leadership, its impact on client relations and a company’s reputation long term.

Had the owner not come the next morning, and the sales team did not account for a project gone awry, I may have cancelled the project altogether. The company’s owner visits all his company’s projects and ensures that his customers are satisfied, which is a big differentiator for me.

The UAE’s Founding Father Sheikh Zayed, was a true definition of what a leader on the ground is.

He personally planted palm trees, listened to the concerns of citizens and residents and visited many projects to see how they were progressing.

In business, true leaders are on the ground engaging customers and reviewing their projects. Good leaders are those who are on the ground, addressing issues before they arise and ensure a certain quality control is in place to mitigate problems.

On the ground leadership is important in business for a number of reasons.

A leader or manager sets the tone for the rest of the team. My mentor, who was a chief executive, personally paid visits to all his team’s offices to gauge their insights and listen to their concerns.

His open-door policy, inspired the entire company, helped create a more open culture and direct relationship between a manager and their teams.

On the ground leadership also sends a message to clients that they are important, and management is listening to them.

Depending on the size of your business, this could be done either with the owner or manager visiting project sites, or meeting with clients, or it could be by having a public social media account for the owner or manager to be reached by customers. An online open-door policy, so to speak.

In the end it all boils down to basics: be there for your team and for your customers.

Manar Al Hinai is an award-winning Emirati journalist and entrepreneur, who manages her marketing and communications company in Abu Dhabi

Updated: March 14, 2020 07:58 PM

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