TELLING TALES: Walking in the Shoes of Others.

“Telling Tales” is an ongoing series from David Allen Ibsen who, after 25 years and 130 clients in his market-driven business consultancy Five Meetings Before Lunch, has a few tales to tell about business, people and innovation.

I was lucky. I started my career as an assistant in a service company. I was an Assistant Media Planner at the old-school Mad Ave advertising agency Baker & Spielvogel. There, I learned how to use the Xerox machine, how to load ink into a printer, how to respect others but get what I needed, and how to prepare for the unexpected at client meetings.

I was lucky, because I learned what it was like to walk in the shoes of the people who would turn out to be my staff, as I rose up the ladder into corporate management. It enabled me to pass-along effective ways of doing business, and pass-off responsibilities to my staff that helped us all as a team.

Learning what it is like to walk in other’s shoes helped me feel compassion for what I was asking others to do for me. It gave me a clear picture of how much time tasks could take, and how much training was needed before handing off a task. It helped me be a more practical mentor, and manager.

It also ensured that if no one else was around, I could still fire up the Xerox, load the printer, and prepare for the unexpected on my own.

It made me, and those around me, better at their jobs.

Managing others is about mentoring, motivating and teaching. It is about passing along the tricks of the trade. A mature leader knows when to stop doing, and start managing, and knows what it is like to walk in other’s shoes.

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