It will come as no surprise to people reading this that we as leaders spend an inordinate amount of time in the “doing”. We gauge our effectiveness by how many things we get done as opposed to how we are getting them done. Tell me: when was the last time you were talking on the phone, answering e-mail and nodding to someone at your doorway – all at the same time? Probably 5 minutes ago, right? In those moments, you are not in the “being” at all, but in the “doing”. So you ask, what is wrong with that? I’m getting a lot done. Well, let’s talk about the fallout of this behavior with those you lead.
What do you mean “how am I being?”
All things of value as a leader are in the being – being in the moment, being an example of the behavior you’d like others to use, and being a catalyst to create the environment where that can happen. True leaders are the molders, the teachers and the nurturers of the culture in their organizations. Employees decide how to engage with others, both inside and outside the company, how to plan meetings, how to manage performance and how to manage stress by looking at how their leaders do this. Every time you open your mouth, you make a decision, conscious or not, about how you want your teams to behave. In that moment, you are actively creating your culture. It is almost never about what you say. It is all in the how you say something or how you react to something that defines your leadership. It’s not the what; it’s the how. That is what the “being” is about.
Here’s an example – you need a report by the end of the week, and decide to ask Joe to generate it for you. You could just say, “Joe, get me the management report by Friday, okay?” That takes about 3 seconds, and gets the job done. Or, you could ask Joe in a way that lets him know how you’re looking at him. “Joe, there’s a management report that I have to have by Friday, and I think that you’re the person to do it – your expertise is just what I need, and I trust you’ll do a great job with it. Can you do that for me, please? Great – I appreciate your help.” That takes about 12 seconds – and lets Joe know that you value his skills, and trust him as a valuable part of the business.
How can I “be” when there is so much “doing” to do?
Believe it or not, and some of you will surely disagree, living in the being will actually get things done more quickly and with more collaboration. Make no mistake about it – all the things you are doing are important and they all need to get done. Doing is not bad, but when you focus on the how, you will find that the doing comes more easily. Folks you need things from are more cooperative and they want to do things for you. When your meetings are focused on the being, you will find that there is a spirit of collaboration, brainstorm and volunteerism. Your workload gets lighter, not heavier. Think about Joe – how do you think he’ll approach his next assignment? He’ll be more enthusiastic and productive. The extra 9 or 10 seconds you took in being, rather than doing, are a great investment in Joe, and your business. The added bonus is that you start modeling this behavior for your employees who in turn start to live in the being. Trust me – it is really cool.
Breaking the Cycle
The most effective way I have found to break the cycle of “just doing” is through announcement. Announce to your team that you want to look at how you are “being” as an organization. Actually have a team discussion around this. Talk about how you are showing up for each other, for clients, for vendors, etc. See if it matches the culture you want to create. It may be scary for some of you because you think if you engage in this conversation, people will stop “doing”. Not to worry – “doing” never goes away. It just gets easier if you are focused on the “how”, not the what.
Is that it?
One last thought. I mentioned earlier about the possibility of you making an unconscious decision about how you’re showing up. If that’s true, you need a little self-awareness seminar. As a leader, you need to be acutely aware of how your voice and actions are impacting your people, because they are, every minute.
So – how will you shift from doing to being?
Grace Andrews • Executive Coach/Corporate Healer • President, Training By Design • Boston, MA • firstname.lastname@example.org • www.training-by-design.com