The concept of leading by "wandering around" suggests that leaders need to be intentional about getting out of the office and into the "trenches" of their organization for the purpose of understanding the experiences of their employees. In my role as a school superintendent I am a huge believer of the importance of getting into buildings and classrooms. I have found when I am out and about I have a much better perspective of what is really going on in the lives of our staff members and our students. When it comes to making decisions for our district, I am able to draw upon the experiences I have seen first-hand as opposed to going off of perceptions, rumors, or second-hand information.
This concept is discussed in many books, including The Leadership Challenge, The Innovator's Mindset, and Radical Candor, just to name a few. One of my favorite quotes actually comes from The Leadership Challenge, where the authors suggest, "Being visible in day-to-day undertakings demonstrates you care, makes you more real, more genuine, more approachable, and more human. Being where they are helps you stay in touch with what’s going on and shows that you walk the talk about the values you and your constituents share."
I was Twitter messaging one day with Cedar Rapids Kennedy High School Principal Jason Kline and he mentioned that - for him - getting into classrooms and interacting with students and staff gives him "energy." Ever since I read his words I have been in complete agreement - getting away from the office and into buildings is like an instant shot of 5-Hour Energy. Whatever stress or mental block I was previously experiencing seems to go away! Many times when I find myself lacking motivation to get through the day I stop what I am doing and head to one of our school buildings to get my mind back on track.