In the 1980s, management theorists popularized a new term, “Management By Walking Around” (MBWA). This was a pithy way of describing one of the “arts of leadership” -- strolling through the offices, warehouses and factories, and chatting to staff.
Iconic CEOs of the time, such as John Akers of IBM, could demonstrate their accessibility and connection to the day-to-day workings of their organizations purely by leaving the executive floors and touring the IBM locations in the US and worldwide.
The modern CEO and the leadership cadre of large organizations can only look back with nostalgia to such a time when the ideal methods of leading were so straightforward. Today, the C-suite has two large and unique challenges that have never before been faced by leaders (particularly CEOs).
Not only is there a physical workplace to lead (as there always has been) but now there is a digital workplace that requires constant attention as well. The workforce is working within both physical and virtual environments and, therefore, even MBWA leadership now means “walking around" in the digital as well as the physical world.