The Benefits of Presence in Leadership
It takes real discipline to give people your undivided attention, especially when you’re overwhelmed with work or are simply having a bad day. So every morning, do a personal pep talk and inspire yourself to “be in the moment” when interacting with other employees or team members throughout the day. Practice tuning out the white noise and concentrate on the individual, paying attention to their words, tone of voice and body language. This good habit will help transform your leadership to a higher level.
You probably know people who are terrible at being present — and maybe you are one of them. A leader like this is “preoccupation” personified, the classic White Rabbit who is always running around, thinking only of being late for some “very important date” with no time to say “hello, goodbye” — just, “I’m late, I’m late, I’m late!” Or maybe this leader acknowledges you, but doesn’t really make or take the time to listen, learn how you’re doing, and engage your thoughts and opinions in some meaningful way. Or perhaps this person appears to be listening, but demonstrates other body language (crossed arms, loss of eye contact, continuing to check phone either in person or virtually) that indicates he or she is only going through the motions and is literally just “hearing you out.”
When leaders do this or have other “I’m preoccupied” behaviors, they make others feel unimportant and can damage self-worth. This unknowingly and unintentionally creates barriers between leaders and those they work with every day. And those barriers wreak havoc on employee morale and company culture. Consequently, the staff will stop offering ideas, sharing suggestions, and will lose respect for their leaders. If this is happening with your team, it’s possible that you’ve lost or never had that crucial ability to truly be present with your team.
The world is a busy place. Everyone has a complicated life to lead, and you can’t ignore what happened yesterday or what’s coming down the pipeline tomorrow. You’re continually challenged to succeed in your job, which makes “being in the moment” downright tough sometimes. So being fully present with a situation or individual takes discipline, whether you’re trying to apply it to your personal and/or professional life. In fact, being in the moment is one of the secrets to great relationships, which can net big returns whether you’re nurturing them with a family member, friend, staff member, co-worker or customer.
So next time someone tries to share some thoughts with you, don’t dismiss this opportunity to “be in the moment.” Remember, this is a human being — and one who is there to help and support YOU. SLOW DOWN. Focus on the present situation. Engage with the person before you. Being truly present (even if for a couple of minutes) goes a long way.