Present and Accounted For

Group of people sitting in a team meeting

Over the last couple of months, I have met with nearly all of 8,200+ team members in groups of 200 to 300 to present, review and discuss our new organizational strategic plan. Over the course of these two hours sessions, my goal is to communicate to them the direction for the organization, explain their critical role in our evolution and engage with them�answering questions and gaining feedback and insight.
For me, this experience has been beneficial on many levels. It�s been so productive, in fact, that I will be holding one-hour sessions twice a year with my team moving forward. While the topics will vary, I will use this time to engage and connect with team members across the organization. 
One of the biggest takeaways from these sessions for me is the reminder to be present�to entirely focus on my team members when I am with them, to listen and be in the moment. Being present and engaging with others in a focused way allows me to not only create meaningful connections with my teammates and colleagues but helps me and my organization perform at a higher level. I genuinely believe that to lead successfully you must be present.
There are tremendous benefits to being present. Being focused and thus being present, demonstrates to team members that you are engaged, empathize and understand them. You show them that you are actively listening and hearing them. You build camaraderie and connection. Conversely, when you are not focused or present, team members get discouraged and lose motivation. They think if he does not care, why should I.
Being present improves your skills as a leader and manager as it enhances one�s ability to cope with stress, to stay level-headed and allows you to operate from a proactive position as opposed to a reactive one. Often, problems don�t need a definitive solution, they merely need clarity of thought and attention.
Practicing being present can take just that, practice. Here are a few tips to help you focus and thoughtfully engage with colleagues and team members:

  • Take a moment to clear your head before each interaction. This will allow you to focus on the person in front of you and the issue at hand.
  • Don�t multi-task and give your team member or colleague your full, undivided attention. If this is not possible, reschedule your conversation.
  • Don�t interrupt or prematurely form opinions. You want to listen actively. 
  • Recap or summarize what your colleague or team member is sharing. This forces you to listen for comprehension and allow you to ask probing questions to understand more thoroughly. 

At the end of the day, what drives us all to do and be our best is the connections we create with others. Being present, listening and focusing on others makes that possible.

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