Mustang Leadership: “Ground Pounding — The “Up & Out” Strategy”(Part 5)

Mustang Leadership: “Ground Pounding — The “Up & Out” Strategy”(Part 5)

Because firing email “missiles” from your desk will only get you so far. 

Welcome back to the Mustang Leadership series. If you’re new here (ABOUT TIME!), check out the links to Parts 1–4 at the bottom of this post.

Part 5 features a leadership approach that helps build cross-organizational/department rapport to ease your team’s problems. This approach, and credit, goes to a mentor of mine, who dubbed it “Ground Pounding.” 

Photo by Nelson Rodriguez at

The inspiration, “Ground Pounders,” is a slang term used to refer to U.S. Army infantry soldiers because of the long hours they spend marching. 

Okay — let’s get after it.  

What is Ground Pounding?

Most of us know the classic leadership advice of leaving behind your desk to see the organization firsthand. Some of those benefits include learning about your people, their mission, and professional goals, all of which will help you lead. 

That is solid advice for new supervisors but ground-pounding is about more than meeting your people. By this point, I hope you have identified the frequency of how often you visit your team without being disruptive. (Yes — there are negatives too)

Ground pounding involves meeting the people external to your team that your organization relies on or provides service or support to. 

Photo by Laura Tancredi at

For me, this realization was groundbreaking (horrible pun). 

It’s no longer enough to step away from your desk—you have to think “up and out,” which may involve leaving your building, city, or country to develop professional relationships. 

This is important because each organization has sections, departments, or [insert name]. The inherent problem with an organizational structure is that it naturally creates information silos and barriers to communication. 

We, including myself, are very guilty of ignoring anything external to our respective “silo.” But not anymore. From this day forward, we will be ground pounders. 

Now that we’ve covered what ground pounding is, let’s seek to understand the more extensive workforce. 

Understanding the Work Environment 

Did you know that over 754,633 office workers are employed in the United States? 

To put that into perspective, the United States civilian labor force amounted to 167.43 million people.

That’s a lot of people not tethered to a desk full-time. When you think of just how many people are scattered across the departments below, it highlights how imperative it is to think “up and out.” 

Top 10 Company Departments: 

  1. Administrative
  2. Human Resources
  3. Purchasing
  4. Information Technology
  5. Operations/Delivery
  6. Product/Service Development
  7. Sales
  8. Marketing
  9. Accounting
  10. Finance

The Ground Pounding Approach

Step 1 (Identify): Examine your organization processes to determine what your inflow and outflows are. List out every external dependency by annotating the respective organization or person. 

Think about what makes your organization “tick”. For example, you work in the Human Resources (HR) Department and know that new employees have Information Technology (IT) requirements such as creating their email account. This is a key “outflow” process for your team as you are dependent on the IT department. 

Photo by Christina Morillo at

Step 2 (Rack & Stack): Create a value system next to how dependent you are on this person/team. List in order of dependency. By listing out every process you can sort by relevancy. This will help you later on in determining how much energy/effort to exhaust. 

Step 3 (Plan): Develop a schedule that lists out the frequency with whom you need to visit. Once a relationship is established this will become more natural and less formal. (Which is right where you want to be)

Photo by Jess Bailey Designs at

Step 4 (Act): Meet with those teams and people you have determined. Find opportunities to help each other. Ideally, your goal should be to get some early “wins” for those listed on your list. 

Parts 1–4: 


Okay, ground pounders, today we talked about the importance of “Up & Out” leadership and how it can benefit your team and organization. The further you progress in your leadership journey the more it revolves around thinking “big picture”. Ground pounding is simply one step of breaking down siloes to get your team marching forward. 

Hope this was value-added. Let me know what you think!


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