“Goodness to a righteous person, leads to goodness to his neighbor.”
— Babylonian Talmud (300 A.D.)
I spent a gap year after high school living in Jerusalem and studying the Talmud. Throughout this historic work, there are references to the importance of “space” and the influence that a neighbor can have. From a young age, I’ve always focused on the significant impact of “location” in one’s life.
Recently, our next-door neighbors asked if we knew anyone looking for a house prior to putting their house on the market (not a bad strategy to avoid real estate commissions!). My wife and I, appreciating the heads-up, reached out to a few families we knew we wanted as neighbors. It ended up working out.
I have translated my belief in the importance of location — and the people in it — to my professional life as well, first while working in human resources and now as CEO of Investopedia. Specifically, I take a personal interest in seating arrangements. I believe that where people sit has a major impact on managerial and team effectiveness. It influences personal friendships, which lead to business relationships; builds stronger team behavior through collaboration; improves employee retention; and ultimately results in smarter decision-making.
I try to never micromanage, but this is one of the few areas where I do. Here’s how my approach works.
Execs Sit With Execs
Research on the importance of high-functioning executive teams to company performance has been conclusive. Too often, when leaders are asked to name their “team,” they list only their direct reports. Yet the most important team an executive is on is the senior leadership team.
Often, it is the silos between functions that result in a misalignment of company priorities and poor decisions. These silos typically result in a “political” environment where information is shared directly with the CEO rather than between executives. This is why it is critical that your leadership team sits together.
My eight-person executive team sits in an open-space environment. Execs with 20+ years of experience sit beside one another with no preferential seating over a college intern. There are no walls, no barriers. They hear what someone’s weekend plans are and can listen in on business conversations both formally and informally.