What is the most essential skill for leaders to master?
art work by Gerald Shepherd
There are many important skills we have been taught through books, schooling, and/or workshops: communicating effectively, patience, integrity, and accountability, among many others; however there is one that stands out among all others, I believe - ”being present".
Seems simple right? But many leaders and people really have little idea what it really means to be present. Sure, many of us have heard of being present, but do we practice being present? In my humble experience, I have attended many in person meetings where managers/leaders were saying they were present but in fact were not. Sitting in a room is not being present, attending a zoom meeting is not being present, having a one on one is not necessarily means you are present. Being present is much more than that…
There is a lot we can miss when we go through the motions of having engagements with people. Sending texts, emails, and skypes are fine but there can be no real connections created without being present. We all need the space and time to connect even more today than any time in our lives.
“Being Present” is the ability to be open & still with someone. This entails listening actively to another individual while suspending any judgments. It is extremely difficult to master for many and even I continue to work on being present when coaching. The skill though has tremendous upsides regarding building trust and creating deeper connections with people, whether it be at work or your personal relationships.
The first step in mastering this skill is be full engaged, limit any distractions…be still.
Second, focus on the other persons words they are using…and focus on the words behind the words.
Third, listen with your eyes…facial and body movements – eye contact always.
Forth, listen more than talk – a lot easier said than done for many! Silence can be very difficult but very revealing at times.
Fifth and most important suspend all judgement even if you disagree with the person!
Being present is something that should be included in ALL leadership training classes, because it is fundamental to discovering who and what is important to others while honoring them for who they are. You may also learn something about yourself regarding your own biases and limitations. You will be surprised that you may learn more about yourself than the other person at times.
Until the next time...be present!