I first heard that saying as one of “Bob’s Rules” … a collection of wisdom from a former boss of mine. When I google the phrase it turns out that it might have been John le Carre who coined the phrase, and I can well imagine him using it in the context of one of his spy novels. Having said that, the phrase is very attributable to the everyday world in which we operate.
If you are a salesperson then spending too much time at your desk means that you are not spending enough time with your clients and prospects … and from a sales perspective that IS a dangerous practice.
If you are a manager and you spend too much time at your desk then do you really know what your team are doing? No matter how much we “tell people”, they are often reluctant to come and find you if there is an issue … which might NOT be the answer you want to hear.
If you are a supervisor in a factory and spend too much time at your desk then are you sure that health and safety concerns are being adequately looked after? Are your team being as productive as they might? How will you know if you could help them, if you are not there?
As a senior executive how do you know what is going on if you are stuck to your desk?
The statement applies in a tom of situations … one of Bob’s Rules that you need to think about (some are more self-evident) but definitely worth understanding in your situation if you are a manager at any level.