The Many Leadership Benefits of Being Present

Let’s face it, being a busy leader at any level requires the ability to move quickly from one task to the next. Sometimes, at the end of the day, when we have been booked back-to-back with meetings, calls and zooms, all our hard work may become just a blur. In fact, when a leader has multiple days working at this pace, he/she may not even realize that they may be shortchanging people in each interaction, perhaps not giving them their full attention in each key conversation, even when weighing in on key decisions.

When leaders are not “present” in key meetings, when we are preoccupied or too rushed, we increase the odds of misunderstanding key messages. Critical pieces of information may be left out of conversations or worse still, we may not even be presented with the information because we appear too rushed or absorbed in other matters. Consider how your stakeholders feel on the receiving end of this hectic interaction if this happens too frequently. Especially during busy times, self-awareness is critical. Because we all know, relationships require work and making a deeper connection with key employees and stakeholders needs both time and a commitment to two-way communication-during all situations, even a hectic one.

In times like this, it is good to take some time at the end of each day to assess:

  • How did the day go?
  • Did I rush any conversations today unnecessarily?
  • Did I give everyone my full attention in the moment?
  • Was I preoccupied in any of my meetings with something that happened before or was coming up next on my calendar?
  • Do I need to reach out to anyone to ensure that they were fully heard?
  • Was I listening more than speaking?
  • What can I do with my calendar to ensure I have a few minutes between meetings to reset for the next one?
  • What steps can I take to help me be more present in each conversation?

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Taking time to reflect at the end of busy days can help us quickly reset and readjust for the next day and if needed, reach out to anyone we may have shortchanged.

There are many ways to help you with remaining present. Here are some ideas:

  • Schedule a short break between meetings. Some leaders I work with book 45-minute meetings instead of an hour or 20-minute meetings instead of half an hour. This gives them 10 or 15 minutes between each meeting to decompress and prepare for the next one.
  • Make notes or outlook tasks immediately after each meeting helps release the “to dos” from your mind and feel like you have begun actioning.
  • Prepare in advance of each meeting to enable you to listen more and ask key questions.
  • Practice active listening skills in each interaction and remember to listen more than speak.
  • Do short breathing exercises or meditation, which can reduce stress and re-establish presence.
  • Walk around your desk/workspace. Some physical movement between sessions will help you readjust and put your energy back into the moment.

Put some of these practices into motion and you will see the difference immediately in how both you and other people feel at the end of the day. Being fully present is the best gift you can give yourself and your team as a leader.

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Sandra Hokansson

Sandra Hokansson
Sandi Hokansson is a certified executive-level coach and principal of SoundLeadership. Reach her at sandi (at) soundleadership (dot) ca.

Sandra Hokansson

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