Good Habits #42: Spend more time with People

By | June 25, 2019

[June 25, 2019]  In 2007, I had the pleasure to meet comedian Robin Williams in Al Faw Palace, Baghdad, Iraq. He and I had a warm, captivating conversation. We talked about our families, where we came from, and the interesting people we’ve met. He told me that his life’s mission was to spend more time with people and that’s why he was in Iraq.

“I used to think that the worst thing in my life is to end up alone. It’s not.  The worst thing in life is to end up with people who make you feel alone. “ – Robin Williams, American actor and comedian

I get to speak with many local community leaders in my travels throughout the United States. Every one of them says they spend too much time on administrative tasks like answering emails and talking on the phone. Each admitted that they were not spending enough time with the people in their care; an honest observation.

This is a persistent problem not easily solved. Part of the answer is to delegate more to subordinates. Another is to block time in the schedule to walk around and just talk with people. A leader who does this will be more trusting of others and more trusted in return.

Robin Williams was voted the funniest person of all time. My brief encounter with him, more than a decade ago, impressed me about his insights about people; enjoying your time around them, caring for them, and making each encounter something very special. Williams committed suicide in 2014.

It has been said that the most important thing that parents can do for their children is to make them likable. And the only way to do this is to ensure their kids spend time playing with other kids. The same applies to good leadership habits; be likable and spend more time with people.

Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article everyday on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.

19 thoughts on “Good Habits #42: Spend more time with People

  1. Greg Heyman

    Great mini-series with entertaining personal stories.

    1. Bryan Lee

      The personal stories help make this series come alive.

  2. Tracey Brockman

    Great article, great series on ‘good habits.’
    Keep up the effort to let us know about what those things are that make for inspired leadership.

  3. JT Patterson

    I’ve been exposed to a bunch of different leaders in my lifetime; their styles, challenges, and their wisdom. The best advice I ever got was that leaders spend their time with people and let them know that the leader is reliable and trustworthy. The only way to make that happen is to be there. Gen. Satterfield once wrote an article on “Being There” and it was about this very topic.

    1. Mr. T.J. Asper

      Well said. I too have seen many and the bottom line is that the best of them spent time with us, guided us, and showed that they cared for us.

  4. Janna Faulkner

    Your entire series on leader habits is absolutely wonderful. You might want to write a book on this subject along with your personal experiences to drive home the point.

  5. Eric Coda

    What else is there? My boss at work would rather spend time hobnobbing with his superiors and trying to get them to notice him rather than spending time with the average guy on the worker floor is doing the real work. Already my boss has lost a lot of respect from my co-workers and I see this trend continuing. What will happen eventually? I don’t know but we don’t like that kind of leader.

  6. Army Captain

    I’m sure there will be some who fail to take notice of what you’ve written here and not follow your advice. Take heed, however, this is what leadership is all about.

    1. Jonnie the Bart

      Hi Army Captain. I’m sure in the military that more time with people is the most crucial thing to do. But, not so sure in other endeavors.

      1. Roger Yellowmule

        Jonnie, this doesn’t just apply to the military but to all walks of life. Leadership is, in the end, all about the people around you. It cannot hurt to be there for them.

    2. Gil Johnson

      Thank you Army Captain for reinforcing the importance for the simple habit of spending more time with people is you plan to be more successful as a leader.

    1. Doug Smith

      This is why I keep coming back to Gen. Satterfield’s leadership blog. It’s interesting and a great way to link up with other leaders with the same problems I have.

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