The focus of leadership may surprise you. Your strength as a leader and your non-anxious presence has great impact. There have been times in my career where my focus was on self-preservation, caution, security, safety and certainty. Sometimes I have focused on having others approval as a place of focus.
Additionally, there is a great deal of emphasis being placed on techniques and data for leaders to increase their ability. William Friedman in his book “Failure of Nerve” indicates that “The way out of our leadership rut requires shifting our orientation from technique to our own presence and being.”
Leadership continues to be one of the most studied, researched and evaluated subject matters. You can head off to the bookstore or hit Amazon and find loads of books focused on technique, plans, forms and graphs. The books are fantastic and the content is rich. Yet, sometimes they are focused on technique over the importance of a strength of presence.
I focus most of my leadership on one area: Presence. Think about that word for a moment. It is not about your words, your snazzy spreadsheets or organizational charts. It is about your inside, your capacity and your ability to embrace uncertainty.
Here is a checklist to evaluate your leadership presence.
According to Friedman from Failure of Nerve: A strong presence has the following characteristics:
1.) You understand your beginning and end. In other words, it is staying well attached relationally and not allowing the anxious system of your business or others to infiltrate your world.
2.) You have at the top of your mind your purpose, your vision and your trajectory. If not, the anxious system or presence of others could infiltrate or impact your direction.
3.) You are able to manage your own reactivity to the situation at hand. How many times in meetings have you experienced the reactivity of others?
Who in history had a strong presence? I think of individuals like Lincoln, Churchill and Martin Luther King Jr. They were able to stay strong in the midst of chaos.
Take a look at the three characteristics above. Which one of these do you find yourself adhering to the most? Stay focused on that characteristic this week as you move toward your team. Leadership is so much more about your inside and self-management, which translates to a strong focus on the outside.