Cultural references can be tricky but a recent article around a long held belief of mine compels me to comment. In its April 1 issue, Fortune magazine featured the “World’s Greatest Leaders” with the top spot bestowed upon Theo Epstein, the Chicago Cub’s President of Baseball Operations. Yes, the Theo Epstein of the strategic 5 year plan to erase 108 years of championship frustration and who in the 5th year of that plan succeeded in dramatic fashion.
The selection panel focused on three qualities, among them the ability to:
“Bring followers physically together. Research shows that when groups meet in person, face-to-face, they trust each other more, become better problem solvers, and are markedly more creative.”
In Epstein’s case, his directive and driving principle upon taking the reins in Chicago was to acquire players of character. A successful search for such players would not be determined by algorithms but instead by meeting with them – in person – to establish a connection and a relationship between individuals and between individuals and the organization.
As a consultant who is called upon by clients to deliver and foster progress and innovation, I have always taken opportunities to meet clients in person – and these are not limited to just the “major” presentations. When assessing travel costs versus a skype call, video or teleconference be sure to include the “soft costs” of lost opportunities for collaboration, relationship building and information exchanges that are not likely to occur electronically. At the very worst, the client will appreciate the interest and intent while the upside is chock full of positives and possibilities.
In the vernacular of the day – this practice may be tough to monetize but it is easy to understand the potential impact of an in-person client meeting.