Less than two weeks ago America got a new hero: Charles Ramsey, a man from Cleveland, Ohio, who interrupted his enjoyment of a Big Mac to respond to the panicked pleas of a young woman in a neighboring house. As a result, three women who had been abducted and presumed dead for a decade were rescued.
Millions of Americans were charmed by Ramsey's self-effacing speech, but I was more taken with the fact he did something that so many of us are reluctant to do anymore: step across the barrier of our own self-containment and reach into someone else's life. We tend to deceive ourselves that our technology-Facebook, Twitter, texting-means that we're connected to other people. It's an illusion, because it allows us to be connected at our convenience. Real relationships mean getting involved when things are messy, chaotic, uncertain-and real.
In our organizations, we sometimes pursue a sanitized version of involvement with our people. We send memos and communicate via calendars. Leading is a full-contact sport - that means being hands-on, asking questions and caring about the answers, and reaching out to learn who the people we're working with truly are and what they truly need.
Are you sending communications or involved with your people?