If you are like me you have attended your fair share of management and leadership training programs over your career. In fact, if you manage managers, you have sent many of them through management training as well.
There is one important thing though that isn’t discussed much in many of these management/leadership development programs. It gets buried in the latest new management and leadership theories, tips and “tricks.” Yet it is very simple, and doing it may have more influence on your ability to lead than anything else you do.
Before the kickoff of our first high school football game of the year, I noticed a man going around and introducing himself to the fans and parents in the bleachers. It was our new Principal. With a friendly smile and a sincere desire to know each person he made contact with he introduced himself. He asked what their names were, who their children were and why they were at the game.
Each interaction was brief, and I wondered how he would really remember everyone’s name. The answer to that question was quickly answered in the following weeks as he continued to show up early for the other games and attempted to greet everyone there. We are now into basketball season and he continues to do the same thing.
Another thing I noticed about this new leader is that he makes it a priority to interact and get to know every kid in the school as well. After a recent basketball game as the kids hung around on the court talking, he challenged them to touch the rim of the basket. He even got some of the teachers involved. In a matter of minutes it seemed like the entire student body at the game had huddled around this teacher, laughing and having a good time.
The best leaders get this. What is it? It’s to be present. It doesn’t take a whole day of leadership training to explain how to do this. It isn’t difficult at all. You just have to be around, interacting and building relationships. This Principal gets this. And because of being present and interacting with the kids, most of them will tell you they would go to him with a concern. Heck, parents would tell you the same thing as well.
Is not the purpose of leadership to lead? To get people to follow? While this alone won’t make you a great leader, it will pay huge dividends in getting you there.
It doesn’t require money, an elaborate project plan or training. It is simple; just engage. Be there and others will believe you care. When those you lead know you care, they are more likely to trust you when you ask them to follow you.
Question: Do you know leaders who are present? What has the result been? How do you stay present as a leader?
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