Leaders: Are You Truly Present?

by | 3 minute read

Few lead­ers have been able to tru­ly con­nect with and inspire peo­ple the way Bill Clin­ton does. How exact­ly does he pull this off? You may be ask­ing your­self that ques­tion as you strug­gle to con­nect with mem­bers of your team. If you’re seek­ing ways to be more engaged and effec­tive, review Ras­mus Hougaard’s advice, which will be pub­lished in his forth­com­ing book, The Mind of the Leader, How to Lead Your­self, Your Peo­ple and Your Orga­ni­za­tion for Extra­or­di­nary Results.

Hougaard cites a Bain sur­vey on the lead­er­ship traits that employ­ees like most. He explains that “the abil­i­ty to be mind­ful­ly present (also called cen­tered­ness) is the most essen­tial [trait] of all.” While employ­ees appre­ci­ate mind­ful­ness on the part of the man­agers, they also per­form bet­ter at their own jobs when they believe those man­agers tru­ly care. Hougaard’s own research also sup­ports these find­ings.

What does it mean to be "mind­ful­ly present?" Start pay­ing atten­tion to the details that mat­ter most to your team mem­bers. Some lead­ers meet this chal­lenge by con­nect­ing with employ­ees on a per­son­al lev­el. They take the time to get to know details about their employ­ees' lives – whose child just got accept­ed to the col­lege of their choice – whose par­ents are strug­gling with a seri­ous ill­ness. They also make sure to com­ment, in pri­vate, on these issues.

Oth­er lead­ers make it a point to focus on the con­cerns employ­ees are hav­ing in the work­place. If a long-winded team mem­ber comes to you with a con­cern, per­haps one you’ve heard before, it’s easy to let your atten­tion drift. After all, you have ten oth­er press­ing issues to get to by the end of the day. The employee’s spe­cif­ic issue may not be all that impor­tant to you, but it could be crit­i­cal to them. Be respect­ful and pay atten­tion while they’re talk­ing to you. They can tell when you’re think­ing about some­thing else, espe­cial­ly if you start glanc­ing at your phone. Once they think they've lost you or sus­pect, that you just don't care, their com­mit­ment to do a great job with­ers. You don’t nec­es­sar­i­ly have to promise to take action. Many times, the fact that you’ve lis­tened, empa­thet­i­cal­ly, is suf­fi­cient.

Any key aspect of being present relates to larg­er scale events. Dur­ing big meet­ings or pre­sen­ta­tions, employ­ees expect lead­ers to infuse them with ener­gy and a sense of pur­pose. If you find your­self hav­ing trou­ble get­ting focused for these activ­i­ties, fol­low the advice of the experts. Take a few min­utes to cen­ter your­self, to med­i­tate or to engage in what­ev­er per­son­al prac­tice will help you increase aware­ness and dis­play ener­gy and con­fi­dence. Your team mem­bers will appre­ci­ate your efforts and reward you with their loy­al­ty and com­mit­ment.

Kathy Crosett
Kathy is the Vice Pres­i­dent of Research for Sales­Fu­el. She holds a Mas­ters in Busi­ness Admin­is­tra­tion from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Ver­mont and over­sees a staff of researchers, writ­ers and con­tent providers for Sales­Fu­el. Pre­vi­ous­ly, she was co-owner of sev­er­al small busi­ness­es in the health care ser­vices sec­tor.