While being highly productive can drive one’s promotion and movement within an organization, it can be equally distracting when trying to retain clarity in the midst of constant change and challenge. Executives today need to be exceptionally present — from moment to moment — to ensure the best decision is being made at the best time. But creating a game plan for being present is often the last thing most professionals think about in this age of multi-tasking. Fortunately, being present is far easier than most think when we start to understand that being present is actually the quickest road to the results we desire most.
An important place to start is to first understand what “being present” really means. Being present does not mean tuning out or ignoring what needs your attention. In fact, being present is exactly the opposite: tuning IN and addressing what needs your attention MOST. We have all sat in meetings where most people at the table are disengaged or checked out, but the conversation (and decisions) seems to just keep moving forward. No one stops to address what is needed most in that moment. If the meeting leader (or anyone in the meeting for that matter) was truly being present, they would stop the meeting and ensure everyone was fully engaged and thinking critically on the discussion before decisions were made. And in doing so, would avoid the auto default decisions that often lead to project inefficiencies — if not all out breakdowns.
Now, in order for us to be present with others, we must first be present with ourselves. When was the last time you asked yourself, “what does my body feel like right now?” … “what emotion am I experiencing in this moment?” … “what is my energy level in what I’m saying?” These may seem like simple, almost elementary questions, but these are the very questions that are critical to being truly present. Most us adults have been so programmed to focus on what’s happening outside ourselves that simply asking the above questions can often be met with a struggle to answer them. And if we are not able to answer for ourselves how our body feels, the emotion we are experience, the level of energy we’re demonstrating, we are already out of the game. In this place, we have no power and are simply left with the randomness of however we might be showing up or not. On the other hand, the qualities of great leaders are those who are always in the game, always empowered and always deliberately driving the experience they intend most.
Executive Presence is starts first with a being present within ourselves so that we may be then present with others. The third area of being present is in our ability to intuitively feel into an environment or situation to identify what may be important to consider as we make decisions. In any given business, there is an endless pool of data, statistics and information that can be utilized in making decisions. But sometimes (or often), the overwhelm of all that information can cloud a leader’s ability to see the best decision. In these circumstances, it’s critical that we be able to pause, put aside all the information and turn within to listen for the answer that is present in this very moment. The answer is always available to us. But when we are running 10 different directions at once, the answer can often feel elusive. Taking a moment to center within and be fully present separate from the outside chatting is often the place we as leaders will find our greatest wisdom and prudence in making the best decisions for our organizations.
In summary, Executive Presence has 3 primary components that starts with being present within ourselves, then being present with others and finally being present with the environment or situation. Being in practice with these practices will help us develop a natural ability to be present, and thereby always see the best path to choose in front of us.