Leadership presence…

“Leadership is about making others better as a result of your presence, making sure that impact lasts in your absence.”

Sheryl Sandberg

My very first boss and mentor once told me that it is the number one responsibility of a leader to ensure that they never need to be indispensable in order for the team to be successful.

In fact, a leader should do everything they can to coach, train, and empower those that they serve so that their individual presence isn’t a requirement for operational success but is instead an additive factor for strategic success.

How do you know if you are delivering on this key leadership premise?

I have found that the types of questions you ask, and that your team members ask you, to be an excellent barometer of success for a leader.

First, are the questions you are asking meant to direct or manage the operational efforts of your team members or are they meant to help them grow in their capabilities? Do you ask more open-ended questions or closed yes/no questions?

Second, Are the questions your team members are asking seeking permission or insight? Are they asking questions on what or how to do something or are they asking for perspective and input on their own thoughts and ideas? If they are asking permission based questions then your presence will be required for ongoing success and that is a recipe for leadership failure.

If you are leading effectively, then you don’t need to be physically present all the time for the right things to happen and for the right decisions to be made. Your leadership influence is presence enough…

What you do matters…

“Leadership is about making others better as a result of your presence and making sure that impact lasts in your absence.”

Sheryl Sandberg

Yesterday someone came up to me and told me how much they enjoy receiving the daily quote and that they share them with a friend every day.  She said that a few weeks ago her friend messaged her late in the day on a Sunday afternoon to find out why she hadn’t sent her the quote yet.  She was laughing when she told me this and said, “so I logged in to my work email so I could forward the quote to her even though I was off of work.”

When I was listening to this I was struck by the fact that I really have no idea who gets the daily quotes, who reads this blog (if anyone), and if those things make any impact on the lives of others.  Hearing that it mattered to just one person is such powerful affirmation that the effort we put forth really matters.  I have long held the belief that if by doing these things only one person is ever impacted that it is worth the effort.  

I have been blessed to work with some incredible leaders over the years.  Those whom have inspired and impacted me simply through their presence and the leadership example they created through their actions and behaviors.  A certain few of them I haven’t seen in almost 20 years, but their influence on my life and leadership carries through to this day.  When I think about great leadership impact I think of these individuals and how they, simply through their presence and actions, cast such a such a powerful influence on myself and I am sure many many others over the years.  

My point to all this rambling is this.  Show up.  Be authentic.  Genuinely care.  When you do these things it will matter to someone.  You might never know the impact but your presence will be felt.  And one day, someone will share with you how it matters and they in turn will inspire you to reach further and do more.  Your effort matters…

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