This summer, I’ve had the pleasure and amazing opportunity to work with a stellar leader as he steps into his new role as CEO. His core message of leadership success to his team and employees? Show up.
How powerful, right? Show Up.
- Don’t just lurk online or in the back of the meeting room.
- Don’t smile and nod and then forget the conversation (the equivalent of a Facebook “like” or an Instagram “double-tap”).
- Don’t walk by your coworkers without making eye contact like you would on a city street (heck, don’t do it there either!).
- Do engage with your coworkers. Take a real interest in them, in their challenges, and in how you can work together.
- Do take the time to get to know your team as people.
- Do ask for help and offer help in return.
- Do remember that work, life, being a human being is hard. We can’t do it (successfully) alone.
We all know what showing up looks and feels like when we encounter it in our lives, but let’s consider some of the specific benefits for leadership success and how it can apply to our communications.
We all know that actions speak louder than words in life and in business. This is what makes showing up and being present so powerful. Now, let’s focus on the benefits for your team and for you.
For your team…
Showing up empowers them to own their work. Having you there and feeling your presence gives your team an increased sense of ownership over their work. And by “there” I don’t necessarily mean that you must be physically co-located. Many of us work with geographically diverse teams and we have to lead, contribute, and coordinate in virtual environments. This makes it even more important to show up, check in, and maintain open lines of communication to achieve leadership success.
Of course, I’m not saying that you have to cyberstalk or hover over your team. If you make it clear that you are there to offer input when they have questions or concerns and communicate a willingness to receive feedback about what would make their work easier, that’s not being overbearing—that’s being supportive. By contrast, if you always forcefully intervene on your own terms, your team will get the impression that you prefer minions to honest team members.
Showing up gives you the opportunity to model professional behavior. Remember that your team watches you carefully for cues as to how they should behave around clients, executive leadership, investors, and even vendors. Is being on time to meetings and events an important part of your industry’s culture? Model the behavior.
Showing up encourages team work. When the leader of the team engages—really engages—the team is complete. It’s easier for everyone to work through challenges and sets the tone in the office for working together.
Showing up makes it easier to develop authentic relationships with your team. Regular team interactions create bonds. And tight teams are productive teams.
Keep in mind that interaction cannot feel superficial or forced. Authentic leaders know how to be relatable and in tune with their employees’ needs. This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to be pals with your team members to gain leadership success. You can maintain professional boundaries, while building strong relationships. Even if you can’t always deliver on employee requests, as long as you take the time to connect, human-to-human, and explain your reasoning, you will earn the respect of your team members.
Showing up makes it easier for you to understand individual strengths. If your only interactions with your team is during group presentations or meetings where there is time for everyone to prepare their remarks, you are only getting one narrow set of data points.
You learn much more about an individual’s strengths watching her work on a daily basis and make decisions on-the-fly. In the midst of a high pressure situation, it becomes clear who possesses leadership success qualities and who could use some additional training to really shine.
Showing up develops transparency in your team communication. Often, we can feel that we have to pick the “right” words or we can’t share the context of our decision making. But when we are part of a high-functioning team, that information isn’t just important, it is part of the daily conversation that enables team members to assess, prioritize and make clear decisions about the best next steps to achieve the team goals.
When it comes to demonstrating true leadership success qualities, the first rule is the most important. If you don’t show up, you can’t be present.
Show up. Engage.
It’s a simple concept but startling in its clarity and potential impact. I’m taking the challenge. I’m ready to show up. Are you?
This September only, Audacia Strategies is challenging you to show up and crush your 2017 goals. We’re offering 25% off of our most popular service, the customized market insight report. Hurry! There are only a few more days left for you to grab this offer!
Photo credit: racorn / 123RF Stock Photo