Life and leadership can often become a whirlwind of activity. People to connect with, work to do, conversations to be had and decisions to make. You transition from one engagement to the next, seamlessly moving through various interactions throughout the day.
As leaders, we can strive to be accessible, available, and visible. But does this necessarily lead to deep connection?
A leader of an organisation was given feedback by colleagues that they came across as distant, preoccupied, there, but not there. Puzzled by this, they sought to understand more. They discovered that despite their attempts to step away from their desk and engage with colleagues during breaks, maintaining an open-door policy, they gave off an impression of being preoccupied; like they had other things on their mind. We all know how easily that can happen, let’s keep it real, leading an organisation or team can be full-on. But what’s the effect if it is your constant mode of operation? If distracted and distant become who you are, how does that build a deep connection?
Take a moment, cast your mind back over your last 24 hours. What types of interactions did you have? What was your level of connectedness? When you needed to be ‘there’, were you? In how many of your interactions were you distracted, distant or wanting to move through quickly? What supported the times of deeper connection?
Being present requires us to show empathy; to listen deeply, to seek to understand before answering, to be here, now.
Easier said than done, I hear you say. There are only so many hours in the day. But what if we practised being present? How might that affect our interactions? What would we gain? What would we lose? Eckhart Tolle speaks of this:
“Time isn’t precious at all, because it is an illusion. What you perceive as precious is not time but the one point that is out of time: the Now. That is precious indeed. The more you are focused on time—past and future—the more you miss Now, the most precious thing there is.”
Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment
It doesn’t have to be grandiose, elongated amounts of time with people. The opportunity to be present occurs every moment of our waking hours. Start small. Close the laptop, put aside the phone, stop for a moment and listen deeply to someone.
When we listen in a way that gives someone our full attention, even for a couple of minutes, we connect. This is empathy. We see and hear them. We cast aside our own thoughts or ego and seek first to understand.
As you go forward this coming week, I encourage you to listen deeply. To move from being visible to being present. Use your daily interactions as your training ground. Start to notice how it shifts your connections to a deeper level. Feel free to drop me a line and let me know how it goes for you.