Being present.

I was working in Singapore at the end of last year and was lucky enough to get to go to the rooftop pool of the Marina Bay Hotel. It overlooks the city and as dusk fell the lights came on and it was a beautiful sight.

I was surprised that many people in the pool were not really present to it though. They more involved in taking photos or being in photos as if though recording the event was really more important than taking in the view.

I sometimes recognise this behaviour in leaders as well.  For example in meetings always taking time out to look at emails, rather than being with people in the room, or in appraisals filling in forms rather than watching as well as listening to what is being said and not said.

In my experience there are many reasons leaders can give for this. Some feel they have to be continually available (as though things would collapse without them), or maybe they are just trying to be efficient, (when you really need to be effective with people).

Being present is a top principle for leading. We need to be able to give undivided attention and have the ability to make others feel they are only ones in the room. It’s only then that we can communicate really well by taking the time to listen to what people are saying. This means to become a great leader you need to practice the art of being present.

Start with small steps like putting your smart phone away and focusing on the current conversation and the people in the room or when  being asked a question stop tapping on the keyboard or staring at the screen whilst you go about answering it. Move on to paying attention to yourself, your instincts, what you are deleting from your mind and what you are feeling. Pay attention to what is really going on now so you don’t miss the view.