Why Do I Like to Have Lunch With Our Interns?
STORY INLINE POST
When I reflect on the meaning of leadership, it is inevitable to think about the importance of words and actions in building an organization’s culture. Throughout my career, my focus has been to develop high-performance teams by promoting cohesion and collaboration. To me, listening and empathizing are key aspects to create a successful organization.
There are not many things that I enjoy more than having lunch with the company's interns and staff in entry-level positions. This simple act has become fundamental for taking the pulse of our organization’s culture and listening to the voice of new generations. These great people, who are just discovering the world of work, have a lot to tell us. I love the fresh vision with which they experience the organization. Their candid comments help me understand how our culture is lived and to learn about the opportunities we still have as an organization to create the culture we desire.
Maybe these young professionals don't expect the company's general manager to spend time with them; in fact, sometimes they may even find it intrusive. However, in these conversations, I have found great opportunities to demonstrate close leadership and experience genuine and honest feedback. When I sit at the table with them, I open my senses with the expectation of capturing all the information and taking the opportunity to learn if our values and principles are lived and transcend beyond the walls of our office.
To build true cohesion and accountability, leaders must generate an environment in which each employee feels valued, creating a structure that recognizes talent, encourages communication, and nurtures collaborative work. It is more than evident that we can't work in bunkers and under a strict hierarchical order. As leaders of organizations, we must foster closeness and listen to people constantly.
I particularly like the example of Elon Musk, the entrepreneur and co-founder of Tesla, PayPal, SpaceX, and Hyperloop, who in an interview commented on his approach when bouncing ideas off his teams: "You must assume you are wrong and aspire to be less wrong. If you can succeed at being less wrong most of the time, then you are doing great." We must be open and have the aspiration to improve constantly, to seek to be less and less wrong, and for this, we must know how to listen.
Why do I like to have lunch with the interns? Because from them, I get the most genuine and organic feedback on how the company is managed; because they allow me to evaluate the consistency between action and discourse. They belong to a digital generation, their vision is fresh, and their voice is valuable. I am thankful for the time I get to spend with them and for what I learn.