There’s No Such Thing As Casual Sex (or Leadership)

There is nothing casual about leadership

There’s No Such Thing As Casual Sex (or Leadership)

When it comes to your life, there’s nothing casual about it.  The same holds true for your personal life and sex or the office.  There is no such thing as casual sex.  There’s also no such thing as casual leadership.  You’re either an engaged leader or you are not.

As an organization leader, I have always been a proponent of MBWA or Management by Walking Around.  On a daily basis, I would wonder, casually walking around the office, call center, plant, or retail location I oversaw.  But there was purpose with my wanderings, making them not very casual or wondering at all.

My goal was to engage an intended target, an employee open to answering questions, making small talk, or having conversations along the way.  Sometimes I would wonder by Team 6 to check in on my new hires or spot check beams to audit our team’s most recent safety evaluation.    On the surface, it appeared casual, but there was a method to my casual madness.  It was targeted, meticulous, and calculated.

In retail, we called this walking the race track.  Think of mall walking but with a purpose.  Those managers that choose to walk the racetrack chatted with customers, checked in with employees, and evaluated their surroundings, relationships all with an end game in mind.  That end game could vary depending on the person.  Selling more widgets, getting home early, or out of sheer boredom.  There was nothing casual about it.

Sometimes managers walk through the motions.  Employees are the same way.  Choosing to be casual when they really are disengaged, unhappy, or unmotivated to go beyond the surface and let their guard down and live.  Going through the motions and doing what my mom calls half-assing it along the way.  We only have one life to live, one moment in time.  Life,  sex, or play isn’t casual.  Why should your work life as an organizational leader be any different?

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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Learn more about Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource, and the host of the Workology Podcast. More of her blogs can be found here.

Reader Interactions


  1. Kay Stout says

    Those leaders who walk around – and learn from the experience – are like great coaches. Coaches watch film of previous games, practices and then work with the players to achieve a goal (win). In the work place, you are the video camera – – only if you walk around and observe.

    When you do, great things can happen. Employees will know you care, you will discover the A team employees and customers will feel encouraged because your available.

    Everyone wins – –

    • Jessica Miller-Merrell says

      Agreed, Kay. Leaders who wander and use MBWA are great coaches, mentors, and build relationships with their employees that go beyond. I like your thought on you are the video camera.

      Thanks for the comment! I value your friendship.


  2. Dan Ryan says

    I partially agree with your post. While I do consciously spend a lot of my time with focused intent, some of the best learning opportunities come when I am headed in a completely different direction. Context drives this “unintended learning”, which may be a little more focused that “casual” events.

    Being open to seeing the tangential opportunities in any situation are what helps me to get the most out of every experience I have. If I kept my blinders on to only to my original mission I feel I would lose part of the unintended, or coincidental learning.

    Keep up the good work.

    Dan Ryan
    Ryan Search & Consulting

  3. Ray_anne says

    When I worked as the in-house Recruitment Manager for a rapidly growing Tech company, it was imperative that I walk the floors. I needed to continually fan the flames to the bond I had formed with my Directors and VPs – to all of whom I semi-reported and they semi-reported to me.

    In order to have a great relationship with all of my hiring managers, I had to establish and maintain those relationships. I needed to be actively engaged in managing these relationships and it wasn’t going to happen if I sat on butt with my office door closed and posted CraigsList ads all day. I KNEW what my hiring managers wanted because I knew my hiring managers. They knew of what I was capable and trusted me. We were a team. Funny how that works…

  4. Kevin says

    Managers that do not walk around are poor performers themselves and are disconnected with their team. They are out of touch with the true productive people working for them and they alienate the concept of teamwork, tend to exhibit/develop employee biases (from the kiss asses) and lack personal integrity. From my experience they also are the ones that receive very negative internal survey scores from their subordinates and have low work group morale.

  5. Kay Stout says

    Re: Dan’s comments – – I frequently am just “there” walking around, talking with people, no agenda, no goal. The aha almost always happens asI’m driving home – – or driving somewhere. .. over the years have learned to just get in the car and start driving … within a few minutes things begin to fall into place and the “aha” occurs.

  6. K.Ramaswamy. says

    Jessica Miller,
    This is in response to your article.
    Life is an endless journey of learning and unlearning.
    Management by walking facilitate this truth in a better way to be in touch with reality and people.



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