As a leader, when you take the opportunity to talk to your people–from their vantage point–not in a meeting, a lecture, or even a company-wide event, but one-on-one, you learn more. Running an organization effectively requires having your fingers on the pulse of your team and knowing firsthand what works, what doesn’t work, and why. Keeping It Real Here’s a personal example of how “getting away” helped me make inroads as CEO for one of the largest real estate advertising companies in the world. I was experienced and right for the position, yet, when I assumed the role, I knew nothing about the people or how they worked. We had a fairly comprehensive training program and the first week I was there, I sat in on training classes for new independent distributors. I wanted to learn exactly what we were telling our new distributors, how we were marketing our product, and how logistically we performed the work flow. Hands-On Leadership As the largest printer in Georgia, we were open 24/7, 365 days a year. I thought it was important to visit operations at all different hours to see firsthand how the various shifts worked. I went into the plant at three in the morning, on weekends, and any time I thought might help me get a real-world view of how the company and processes ran. With 10 million magazines printed a month and 35,000 photos processed each week, the team was glad to have me there. I not only sat in, but I worked with them on the press, in the prepress room, etc. The point is, by getting out of my office, I was able to see for myself where disconnects were, what worked well and what needed help. Getting out there, rolling up your sleeves and getting your hands dirty is an easy way to gain a comprehensive view of your organization from the inside. Whether it’s a multi-million dollar company or a small start-up, getting away is a smart strategy and a proven way to stay connected, engaged and involved.