Presence – Your Presence
We are into December now, so it is ok to mention the ‘Christmas’ word. I’m not a fan of the commercial Christmas that seemingly starts soon after the children return to school in September. But December is a time to begin to think about the more important things about Christmas. Many of you will have traditions that you have generated at Christmas time, many of them revolving around the giving of gifts. For me it is not about the monetary value but the thought that sits behind it. I love that each Christmas, I meet with some ex-headteacher colleagues and give each other the gift of time. The highlight of this time each year is when Anna brings her homemade chutney all individually wrapped and presented to each of us. The chutney is delicious, but it is the thought behind the chutney we love too.
Being a leader is a gift. It is a gift that has been given to us. We have a unique honour to lead others and when we do it well, it can be a gift to others. So, this month, we will explore 5 ‘presents of leadership’ that can empower our leadership and the lives of those we lead.
In their presence
If you only had one gift?
If you were to give yourself one present or gift, what would it be? A huge question that can give a range of answers. Maybe it would be more time? Maybe it might be some character development such as more patience. This could be a very good debate with friends as to what each of you would give yourself. I am going to propose one for you to consider. It is the gift of ‘your presence’. By this I mean self-awareness. Being fully aware of who you are. Daniel Goleman, outlined the importance of emotional intelligence as we lead others. It starts with understanding ourselves and our emotions, then it is about understanding other people and their emotions and connecting us to them
In my work with leaders through coaching, understanding your presence, the essence of who you are, can be liberating and empowering. For me, your presence moves through a series of stages to fully understand yourself.
You know your purpose and your values. You know what drives you.
You know and understand your strengths. You know what powers you. You know how to use them well. You know when you are overplaying them and how to spot the early signals. You know what you are also weaker at and you know who you can call upon.
You know your bias and you seek to work with others to reduce its impact.
You know your emotions. You know what triggers you and how you react. You are aware enough to also know how to manage emotions intelligently.
There is a great new book and podcast by Trevor Waldock, called Becoming Mandela. In it he asks a really key question, that has been on my mind since starting reading and listening to this. It is, ‘who are you becoming?’ There is a sense that who we are now is in part developed by the experiences of the past. Who we become in the future is down to our self-reflection and purposeful development from our present. All of this starts from a self-awareness.
How do I give this gift to myself?
Most presents are one off gifts and if we are lucky, they are useful gifts and we keep using them. The beautiful thing about the gift of ‘your presence’, of understanding yourself as a person and a leader, is that it is a ‘gift that keeps on giving’, if we let it. So, how do you start giving yourself this gift?
Firstly, it starts by giving yourself time to reflect. There are some key questions to ask yourself to give you this gift:
For your purpose, ask yourself:
When I am at my best, what do I love doing? What is important about this? Keep repeating this question until you can get this down to 1-3 words
For your values, get a list of values. Work your way through them highlighting the ones important to you. Then keep shortlisting them until you get down to your core 3.
To help yourself, ask yourself when you see the opposite of them, which make you most cross, angry, sad?
For your bias, talk to trusted friends. What do they notice in you? Maybe ask yourself the question:
What do I avoid on social media? Who would I not want to be in a room with?
For your emotions, note the times that trigger you in a week. What emotions are triggered? Maybe ask those closest to you what they see in you.
Journaling all of this is a great way to start. Take time to answer some key questions and write down your reflections.
Why should I give this gift to myself?
Maybe you have reached this far in the blog and you are still not sure if this is the gift you would give yourself. By all means pick another from the gift list. If I may offer one final reason for choosing this gift of ‘your presence’ to yourself as a leader? Because who you are affects those around you.
Being unaware of our purpose and strengths can de-energise us. We then don’t give the best to those we lead.
Being unaware of our bias and emotions can de-energise others when we are not in control of them.
Can we help you?
If you really want to give the deluxe version of this to yourself, I would highly recommend getting a coach. (Well I would wouldn’t I – I see the benefit of this every day!) A coach can ask you the questions independently. Give us a call if you would like us to help you explore this and empower yourself.
Everyday Leader is here to empower, inspire and equip you to do that If we can help you find a way forward, through coaching, training or consultancy. Do let us know if we can be of help to you by contacting us on firstname.lastname@example.org