Leading With Presence
It’s difficult to overestimate the impact of your leadership style on your company. Your influence is felt in a variety of ways; from the mood you project within your office to the expectations you establish through your policies. Some of your effect is tangible and systemic, some nebulous and emotional. But you can be sure that the pebble you’re dropping in the pond is rippling through your entire organization…which begs a few questions:
- Which qualities best promote cooperation, enthusiasm, and consistency?
In study after study, the answers to this question are consistent. We want our leaders to be…
- .. Even if we never get to meet you in person, we want to know we could.
- Self deprecating… We know you’re amazing and powerful, but don’t act like you know it.
- .. We’ll bend over backwards for you if you listen to us with respect and curiosity.
- .. We need to know you have a goal, a vision, a clear picture of where we’re headed.
- .. We’re watching you to make sure you’re level headed and never lose your cool.
- .. If we think you’re keeping secrets from us, you’ll lose all our trust immediately.
- .. We have great ideas, but we count on you to tell us which are worthwhile and which aren’t. We don’t want to be placated. Sure, we want to be heard, but we also want to be led.
Be a model worthy of imitation, not just in your actions, but in your attitudes, which are always more obvious than you realize. Assume your every thought and mood is being read and registered by those around you…and that they’re mirroring them and passing them down the line. If you’re having a bad day, you’re much better off owning up to it than trying to keep a hide it, leaving others to guess what’s wrong or worse, fear they’re responsible.
Make a daily commitment to being approachable, self deprecating, interested, visionary, unflappable, transparent, and wise.
- How can you enhance those positive qualities in yourself?
The unifying quality which makes all the above possible is PRESENCE. Great leadership, that which transcends mere management and becomes the stuff of inspiration, is the natural consequence of showing up in a way most people never do.
Presence is a quality of deep attention, awareness, and acceptance. Also known as mindfulness, presence implies that your mind is neither tethered to the past nor the future.
Presence can’t be faked. All the eye contact and reflective listening in the world won’t substitute for a moment of pure presence. People can look you right in the eye and never hear a word you’re saying… and when that happens, you know it. You feel it.
They may think they’re getting away with it, but that’s never the case. If you’re not truly engaged with someone; if you’re preoccupied with another matter, they’ll feel it and, however unconsciously, be affected by it.
Presence is a practiced skill. Mindfulness meditation, moments of deliberate attention, and the willingness to fight the inertia of your whirling mind are tools to achieve presence.
Investing ten minutes a day in a presence-producing activities will provide immediate and tangible benefits for those around you and in your company at large.
How can you create a culture which supports and promotes those qualities?
Let’s turn to some organizational strategies that are showing promise in other industries.
- Designate a CMO (Chief Mindfulness Officer): Many large companies from Google to Aetna have such an individual whose job it is to carry the torch for presence in the workplace. Having a CMO insures that this process is always part of the plan.
- Build a training curriculum which includes a module on mindfulness. Demonstrate to your team that this matters to you, that you acknowledge the importance of their emotional well being, and that you recognize your responsibility as an employer to enhance your team’s mental health.
- Harness the power of awe. Research now shows that even a brief exposure to awe inspiring experiences like glimpsing a beautiful sunset can increase productivity and concentration up to 8% instantly. You can provide desk top pictures, screen savers, etc. to stimulate that experience.
- Communicate randomly and personally with people at all levels of your organization. Want to blow some minds and push your good will through the roof, all while learning valuable things about your company you never knew? Pick up the phone every day or two and make a two minute call to a random someone in your company. Make it a thing, and watch your loyalty go through the roof!
- Finally, go deeper. People are getting more savvy about the shallowness of “celebrating the wins” at conferences and in print. Sure, we all like to get acknowledged, but imagine if you committed yourself to acknowledging people at a deeper level; for their courage, their integrity, and their dedication to spreading true wisdom by example.
Your organization is overflowing with untapped potential. Leading with presence will help you access that potential. It will also lower your attrition, deepen your team’s commitment, create a more authentic workplace and increase your bottom line.
Put differently, presence is just good business!
About the author:
Dr. Steve Taubman, “The Entrepreneur’s Hypnotist” produces high energy presentations to get people in action and help them break through subconscious mental barriers to success, like anxiety, discouragement, and procrastination. His bestselling books and award winning programs have helped thousands of business professionals worldwide achieve greater results.. For more information or to book Dr. Steve, visit www.stevetaubman.com.
James Mapes is the founder of Quantum Leap Thinking™, creator of The Transformational Coach™, expert on the psychology of “applied imagination,” best-selling author, highly acclaimed business speaker, consultant, seminar leader and personal excellence coach.