Being accessible and approachable is one thing from a senior leadership team but actually being able to poke fun at themselves is quite another. I often see management treated like tin gods by staff, even in this supposed age of horizontal management structures. People run around, going well beyond their job description, often just out of fear of management because they are aloof and unapproachable. This was not the case with the Z senior leaders this evening!
Z and Caltex have merged and to bring the Caltex staff onboard a large scale welcome function was held in Shed 6. Keeping in the Kiwiana tradition that Z have made their own this function was set up like a giant backyard BBQ. The stage was set like the backyard of a flat, complete with washing line and BBQ and the Z senior leadership took on the roles of a bunch of flatmates. By way of introducing themselves to the newly configured staff, they'd written their own script based around meeting new flatmates. It was an enormously fun and relaxed way to introduce and humanise the bosses.
My role was to co-MC the event with Mike Bennetts, Z's CEO. The idea was that this was the backyard of Mike's flat and I was his shiftless neighbour, Grunter, who was always popping over the fence to cadge whatever he could get his hands on.
I gave the team a little bit of advice before they pulled their opening "skit" together but really it was senior leadership driven - and it went down a treat. I think that often leaders are worried that they will lose the ability to actually lead if they let their guards down at all. I think it's the complete opposite. People are too savvy nowadays to put up with anything less than authenticity from their leaders - especially when authentic behaviour is often something that their leaders are requiring of staff. There is no need to be everyone's mate as a manager (no-one wants to be led by David Brent) but laughing at yourself is very healthy. I was stoked to be part of it.