Yesterday we talked about having great influence through small actions and identified being present as a key strategy, but what does presence really mean?
We generally think of being present as the physical act of being somewhere, but it is more complex than that. While we may be physically present, we are oftentimes mentally and emotionally absent or distracted.
Being present involves being with someone. In his superb book Ethical Leadership (2004), Jerry Starratt identifies three ways of being present that are essential for leaders.
Affirming presence emphasizes the humanity and individuality of others. Affirming presence involves recognizing the person as an individual with a unique story and conveys that the leader cares about that story.
Critical presence involves stimulating reflection. It calls on both participants to engage and think deeply about an issue or challenge and to go beneath the surface. Critical presence relies on an honest exchange of ideas.
Enabling presence requires us to work with the other person to help them be successful. Enabling presence is built on the idea that success is rarely an individual accomplishment. Rather, success comes from people working together by enabling (empowering) each other.
When we are fully present, the other person will feel valued and respected. We communicate and affirm their humanity, we help them confront their challenges, and we empower them to succeed.
I encourage you to try something today. Be fully present for at least one interaction with another person. Turn off or block all alerts, messages, etc… Ignore time. Hang on every word. When you ask how they are and they say fine, ask the second question – No, really how are you? You may be surprised by the answer and it may be an answer that opens doors for something better.
Do good and be well,