One Quality That Will Make You a Better Leader

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It is another busy afternoon. Your schedule is full and there is little time for you to accomplish those items on your list that demand your attention. You are waiting to hear back from the VP of Sales who is in a meeting with a key potential customer, and your next meeting is with your VP of Marketing. She is coming in to update you on the market share numbers. The last report was very positive and you are excited to see the most recent figures. You have increased the marketing budget significantly and have done so because of your belief in her. She is a rising star in the organization and someone you feel has a very bright future who could even one-day be your successor.

After the normal pleasantries, she hands you the report. As you begin to review, you occasionally glance over at your computer screen scanning new emails for any potential "uh oh" moments. Then, a buzz on the cell phone. It is a text from the VP of Sales. He has sent a quick, cryptic message that makes you wonder if he is not going to be able to close this new piece of business. You set down the phone and reengage in the meeting at hand. A minute later, you think of something that might help the VP of Sales get the deal done, immediately pick up the phone and send off your thought in the form of a text. Again, you come back to the report placed in front of you. As you hoped, the numbers look great. Just as you are about to say so, your desk phone rings. It is the VP of Sales who is in between meetings and wanting to talk through the issue before he goes back in with the customer. You thank your VP of Marketing, telling her that you need to attend to this call and tell her to keep up the great work.

A few days later you are shocked to receive a letter of resignation from her. You request that she come to your office, and you look at her incredulously and ask her why she would leave? She informs you that she had a great offer from another company and felt that regardless of her efforts and their corresponding results, that you did not have a real interest in what she did or truly valued the contribution she was making to the organization.

This is obviously an extreme example. But, it serves to illustrate the power that one specific quality can have on a leader and those that they lead. That quality is presence. Thich Nhat Hanh, the venerable Zen priest once said that "The most precious gift we can offer others is our presence".

We live in a world where multi-tasking is the norm. Send a text and the expectation of a reply is immediate. Emails come in 24/7. There are just not enough hours in the day to get it all done, so we try to do it all at the same time. Not only is that unrealistic, it can be a real impediment to effective leadership.

It is a fundamental responsibility of a leader to make those that he leads feel heard, cared for, valued and respected.

It is a fundamental responsibility of a leader to make those that he leads feel heard, cared for, valued and respected. Yet, our constant state of distraction communicates a message of disinterest. It is also, frankly, disrespectful to commit to time on a schedule for a person and then give that time to someone or something else.

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So how do you to fix this, how do you offer your people your presence. You meet less but meet fully. Become more judicious in the number of meetings you schedule with your staff, but when you do have a meeting, let everything else go. If like for many of us this proves to be difficult, change where and how you meet. For example, don't hold the meeting in your office, but rather in the conference room leaving your phone and computer behind. Or better yet, hold a walking meeting. Not only will you be less apt to be distracted, you will be communicating a true commitment to that person with the added benefit of some fresh air and exercise.

Presence is a key trait of an Integrative Leader. Integrative Leaders are those that blend purpose, vision, values and outcome with an ability to make people feel heard, cared for, valued and respected. To learn more about this form of leadership, click here and schedule a complimentary Growth Session.

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Thanks for reading.

Elliot Begoun is a Business Growth Consultant and the Principle of The Intertwine Group. His purpose is to help businesses and business leaders grow. He works to solve real issues, establish strategic guardrails, develop integrative leaders and foster employee enlightenment.

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This article first appeared in the GROW Blog