Leadership Insight: Get Your Hands Dirty

One of the most important leadership insights you can master is to not be afraid to jump in the trenches and get your hands dirty when the situation demands it. Not only does getting your hands dirty as a leader help establish you as someone who leads by example, but it allows you to also learn first-hand about all of the different challenges that your team experiences every day. As John C. Maxwell said “A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way”.

Lone Star Peak Performance whole-heartedly believes that in order to be truly effective, leaders must be willing to get in their hands dirty. Before you are able to begin implementing a “dirty hands” approach to leadership, you must understand what it is, how you go about accomplishing dirty work, and why it is important.
What is dirty work?
Dirty work is usually defined as tasks that are unpleasant, difficult, or time-consuming. At times, the actual work of a team becomes dirty work when the sheer volume of tasks to be accomplished becomes overwhelming.
Lone Star Peak Performance is able to simulate situations mentioned above through our experiential learning programs. These programs provide leaders with the opportunity to display their ability to get their hands dirty without actually having to experience a crucible within their organization.

How do you get your hands dirty?
Kevin Eikenberry does a great job laying out the top four ways for leaders to get their hands dirty in his recent blog:

1. Lending a hand
The best leaders know that sometimes the best thing that they can be doing is physically helping the team.

2. Taking over other tasks in a pinch
Maybe you can’t do their job, but what other work is getting in the team’s way that you could do that might really help them?

3. Getting more help
This could mean more resources, a shifting timeline on other work, or additional staff. When you show that you know a team is struggling or needs help, when you provide that help, they will see you as engaged and aware of their needs.

4. Finding other ways to engage
Maybe they don’t want you anywhere near their work, but perhaps you can find some other way to tangibly show your support for the team and their work.
Why is it important to get your hands dirty?

According to Glenn Llopis of Forbes Magazine, here are five ways leaders must get their hands dirty:

1. Re-Build Trust & Earn Relationships
Don’t assume people trust you just because you are in-charge. Be human and allow people inside of your domain. Encourage transparent interaction and make yourself approachable. Getting lonely at the top is your fault, not the responsibility of others.

2. Share your Points of View
People want to know what their leaders are really thinking. Stop hiding and get involved in the conversation of others and share your points of view. You never know when your voice can make an enlightening impact to advance those around you.

3. Reconnect Yourself with the Business
Invest in reconnecting with your employees, your clients and your industry. Leaders get lost in office politics and forget about who they should be ultimately serving. Don’t forget: the day you stop touching the business is the day the business begins to manage you and your relevancy vanishes.

4. Ask for Help and find Growth from Within your Organization
Just because you are the leader, it doesn’t mean you know all of the answers. Using other people’s wisdom is important in developing your perspectives – but growing as a leader in your own organization requires you to ask for help from your colleagues. Your ego only removes you farther away, not closer to your organization.

5. Showcase your creativity and get involved on the front lines
People expect their leaders to be innovative. Get back in the game by allowing others to see your creativity in action on the front lines. Leaders need to do more and observe less.

How does Lone Star Peak Performance help leaders get their hands dirty?

Lone Star Peak Performance provides leaders with the opportunity to get their hands dirty with their team in a variety of ways. For example, during the Texas Survival course, leaders have the ability to lend a hand as they work to build fire and identify viable sources of sustenance. The Team Orienteering Challenge forces leaders to take over other tasks in a pinch when teams receive an unexpected message from Headquarters during the middle of the race. Our High Ropes Challenge Course epitomizes leaders needing to work together to get more help as they traverse the catwalk together 40 feet in the air! Finally, leaders are able to engage with their teams in a variety of ways during the informal social time spent around the campfire after a long day of meetings and activities.

Additionally, an overnight retreat is a phenomenal way to build trust and strengthen relationships as teams engage in lively conversation during delicious farm-to-table meals prepared by our caterer. Leaders are able to reconnect with the business and their teams by unplugging from the stresses of the office and reconnect with each other on our 60-acre ranch. During an offsite meeting, leaders can share their point of view, short-term goals, and long-term vision with their team. Our provides the perfect place for leaders to ask for help and find growth within their organization. Our Leader Reaction Course is the perfect way to showcase your creativity as a leader and get involved with your team because it forces participants to work closely together, communicate and listen to one another, and navigate the obstacles with limited resources.

Are you ready to get your hands dirty?

If you are ready to invest in your personal development and increase your team’s performance, contact Lone Star Peak Performance at 512-387-1444!

“If you are tackling a big, bold, audacious goal you need to surround yourself with people who are willing to jump in and get their hands dirty. It is not about ego. It’s about accomplishing the goals. Leaders need to look for people who remain accountable.”
Craig Cincotta

Additional Resources
Check out this HBR article to find out more about the concept of dirty hands.

One of Harvard Business Review’s Five Tips for New Team Leaders is the need for leaders to get their hands dirty.

Mike Rowe does a great job of highlighting the importance of leaders having dirty hands in his Ted Talk.

This quick video does a nice job explaining the concept of getting your hands dirty as a leader.