In the duty assignment that I recently changed out of, there were five echelons of leaders between the most junior members of the organization and me, which is the greatest disconnect I have experienced in my career to this point. Over the year of that job, I unfortunately found how easy it was for me hardly see or interact with those junior members on a routine basis. Days of not interacting with them easily turned to weeks and sometimes months. Through this experience, I learned that as we move higher in the organizational chart or chain of command, the higher the power and relational distance becomes between the most junior members of our organization and us. Leaders can easily become disconnected from our junior members.
This is an issue because we can be seen as losing touch by those echelons down the organizational chart, which leads to lost trust in “senior leadership.” I relate this to John Maxwell’s idea where he states that, “People buy into the leader before they buy into the vision.” Increased disconnection and decreased trust lead to severe negative impacts on organizational effectiveness. Leaders must deliberately find and practice routine ways to remain engaged with and connected to the most junior members in our organizations.
As former Secretary Mattis wrote in his book, Call Sign Chaos,
“If you can’t talk freely with the most junior members of your organization, then you’ve lost touch.”