Many of us are guarded about making our personal cellphone numbers easily available, especially to those below us in the corporate hierarchy.  Perhaps there are good reasons for that level of privacy, depending on the circumstances.  On the other hand, Bill Emerson (CEO of Quicken Loans) has maintained a practice of freely giving his cellphone number to all his employees.  We’re talking 8,500 people!

Emerson recognizes this is a personal choice and it may not work for everyone in leadership.  Nevertheless, his rationale is leadership by example (Venessa Wong “This CEO Gives Every Employee His Cell Number (Seriously), 10/22/12):

“‘I encourage leaders to be accessible because it breeds an inclusive culture.’”

I like Emerson’s philosophy.  Too many people in corporate America feel isolated in their roles.  They often wonder if the executive leadership even knows what they do and who they are.  Emerson’s philosophy seems to say, “Hey, I’m just a regular person just like you.  And if you need to call me on something, just do it.”

While many leaders might recoil at the thought of doing this, Emerson has found no major glitches in his practice.  He has not been pranked and employees are not abusing the access.  The limited number of calls he has received have been in the realm of miscellaneous business items, general human interest, and “sorry, hit your number by accident, Bill.”

One incident did make me laugh though.  As part of Quicken Loans’ onboarding process, the new-hires are given an awareness quiz.  One of the questions asks what color the CEO’s eyes are.  Emerson got half a dozen calls asking for the answer.

Of course, Emerson was already aware enough.  His response?—

“Are you kidding me?  I can’t answer that; it’s an awareness quiz.”

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About James Meadows

Currently I serve as a training team manager for Tyco Integrated Security at a customer-care center in Kansas City. Additionally, I am a business consultant, a freelance corporate writer, an Assembly of God ordained minister, a Civil Air Patrol chaplain, and a blogger. I believe we are living in the most fascinating times of human history. To maximize the opportunities these times present, I have a passionate interest in leadership development and organizational success, both of which I view as inextricably linked.

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