Presence is not just about showing up and being “present.” It’s about being in the moment with your supporters and fulling engaging the issues, joys, sadness, sorrows or triumphs that confront every leader.
Lots of leaders show up but are not in the moment. They find themselves distracted by whatever other crisis, issue or meeting they have to jump to. This makes them ineffective at gathering the needed intelligence they need to make good decisions.
Why Be Present
A lot of things can happen when you interact with your supporters. From the mundane chit chat about the weather to the insightful words of someone who truly understands the issues at hand. These moments of both seemly meaningless interactions and profound realizations are lost when the leader is not fully and completely in the moment.
Being present, both mind and body, makes your supporters appreciate that you care enough to take the time to understand the challenges they face.
The Benefits of Being Present
Being present for the leader goes beyond how it makes your supporters feel. For the leader, it allows them to fully and completely process the situations they are dealing with. By fully engaging with the event or situation, a present leader can sift through the noise and get to the meat of a challenge. This allows the leader to make better and better decisions as well as instill a confidence within their supporters.
Training Yourself to Be Present
Presence is all about experience and detail. Too often, leaders are distracted on their smart phones or wondering when they have to leave. This creates a situation where you miss the little things.
These little things are what make the richness and depth of the experience meaningful.
These little things are what give you the insight into what matters.
These little things are the difference between good leaders and great leaders.
So What’s the Trick
The simple fact about being present is that you have to consume the details without being consumed by them. This means clearing your mind of everything that’s not right in front of you.
By doing this, you will start to notice the little details that before, were hidden. These details can be as simple as the color of the room, the pictures on the wall or the number of people seated before you.
While this may seem mundane, this ability to see the detail makes you present in the room. You start to pay more attention to what is being said, the mood of the room, how people react to your words, how they react to others and what brings the room down.
This also applies to personal interactions. Listening and absorbing what someone is saying not only gives you vital information but it also shows that you care enough to listen — which is half the battle in gaining support for your cause.
Ways to Practice and Reinforce Being Present
Presence sounds simple but like anything needs to be practiced and reinforced. Consider some of the techniques below to be and stay present:
Notice the details: Details are important. Absorbing even the most minor one opens up your perspective. These seemly minor details are subtle clues to the mood of the group.
Follow up on a specific detail: Nothing helps the leaders cause like a personal connection. Connecting with others requires making the connection personal and specific to them.
Approach someone on the fringe: The fringe is where the real action is. These are the people and spaces that push the limits and setup future events. Seek out those on the fringe — they usually have the most insights into the future.
Browse the room: Make it a point to take in the entire room or space. Walk around. Sit. Stare. Notice the details and where people stand and mingle.
Jot down a few notes: Keep a notebook or piece of paper to jot down some notes. Don’t take a lot of notes but enough to jog your memory on specific details.
The Moment is Now
Leaders who are present can read a situation and adjust accordingly. This ability to adapt will allow you to gain the most impact from your actions and words. Without such presence, most of your supporters will wonder if you are really in tune with their needs.