Leadership presence and relationship building
Today, a quote from Simon Sinek caught my attention:
“We react to emails.
We talk to people.”
The past two weeks I have facilitated several leadership development programs and coaching a lot of leaders on their development. I would say the focus these past two weeks has been on “leadership presence” and “relationship building”. I have a scenario for you to consider, put yourself into this situation;
You walk into your manager’s office; you ask “May I have a few minutes of your time?”
Your manager, “Yes of course! Please, come in, have a seat”
Your manager turns to you, looks you in the eyes and says “What is going on? How can I help you?”
Off to a great start right?
Then it happens… the sound of an e-mail arriving on your manager’s computer “beeeeuuuuu”… You watch as your well intentioned manager turns from you to their computer screen, “click” opens the e-mail that at its worst, is nowhere close to an emergency (who sends an email “fire, fire, fire!”). Then the “clickty clack” sounds of hands on a keyboard fill the room… “It’s ok! Keep talking! I am listening!” your manager says to you with a warm smile. Has this ever happened to you?
Like Sineks quote, the email is merely a reaction, the same happens with text messages and phone calls. When we accept distraction in these situations we are severing the relationship with the human being sitting in front of us. Put yourself in the shoes of the person that came to speak with their manager, how would it feel to know that they are choosing an inanimate object over you?
Talking to people means being present, and being present does not mean just “showing up”. The excuses I often hear about these situations are “I can multi task”. The question I ask is “how many conversations are you repeating because you were not present in them the first time?”
I have some tips to enhance your leadership presence:
As the manager:
When someone sits down to have a conversation with you (building the relationship) turn off the power to your computer monitor. Turn your mobile phone to vibrate or silent and turn it over so the screen is facing down. DO NOT allow yourself to wander back to whichever task you were doing before and think very hard about the types of calls you may have to accept in exceptional circumstances.
As the person meeting with the manager:
Very simple. If at any time they get distracted and start typing on the computer, texting or taking a phone call. Stop talking and wait. Your leader is likely going to encourage you keep talking, don’t. Just politely say you will wait until they are finished, stick to what you said and just wait.
As another of my favourite inspirational leaders Susan Scott says “the conversation is the relationship”. For me that means the conversations we have or do not have directly equal the quality of the relationships with those people in our lives. Remember, a person talking at you while you type away is someone talking to themselves and you working beside them.
Enjoy the conversations,