What is the best present you have ever given? I have given and received many. But more than any object, the present I enjoy giving and getting the most is presence. As I reflect on the most memorable presents, I have given or received, I think about all the amazing times where I have been with my family and loved ones. What made them memorable was just simply the time we spent together, the attention we paid to one another, and how we brought out the best in each other.
Using that same line of thinking, as I reflect on the best leaders I have known and the impression they have made in my life, it was their presence that made them memorable. Our culture tends to describe a leader by title and position of authority in an organization, political arena, or community service. But being a “leader” is more than a title — it is a way of being. A true leader is one who, in any given moment, has the power to propel others forward, to bring out their best, and power the momentum to reach their fullest potential.
Think about the best leaders you have known and the impression they have made in your life. Regardless of having a leadership title, or not, what was it that they did or how they conducted themselves that made an impression on you?
As you give some thought to the most impressionable leaders in your life, I offer you three ways your presence can make you a better leader.
1. Go to them – These days it is easy to get trapped in meeting-after-meeting – all of them are important, all include complex information, and most require far-reaching strategic decisions. However, getting strapped to your desk and scurrying from meeting to meeting makes you miss important opportunities to connect with your team, on a personal level, show you care, and truly understand how you can support the team. And while today’s climate may change how you go to your team, there are still benefits of alternative ways of genuinely showing your team you care.
2. Warm-up your charisma and give your full attention – People will not always remember what you say, but they will never forget how you make them feel. Our time is cut short these days, but it is not about the amount of time you spend as much as it is about you make them feel in the precious moments you have with them. To truly engage others and create meaningful connections, tune out distractions by centering yourself before you go to the team. And when you are with them, create warm body language such as facing people directly when they are talking, make positive eye contact, and smiling.
3. Maintain your composure to provide hope and support – In today’s business world, it seems that the only given is that there will be constant turbulence. But the person in front of you does not know what you are dealing with a moment ago, nor should they. A leader is responsible for having a certain level of awareness of the situation, quickly “reading the room” and offering their hand for others to hold onto for stability, hope, and support – despite their own unsettled feelings.
Every moment is a chance to lead; to decide how you will show up in the moment and bring out the best in others. In this season of giving, think about how you can give the gift of presence – the gift that keeps on giving!
Happy Holidays and Cheers to a Better 2021!