As we head into the holiday season, I want to talk about giving the best kind of gift that you can give your employees and those around you – the gift of yourself! As a business leader, you can have a huge impact on people by being present and available, by having empathy and by being compassionate.
There are a couple of different ways that you can be there for your people. The first one is having a physical presence. Now, in an office this is easy. You have an open door policy. You walk around regularly, say hello to people, eat meals in common areas and you make time for people.
However, when you are remote, as many of us are these days, this can become more challenging. When you are leading a remote team, you really need to take extra steps to make sure that you are available and that people know it. It’s one thing to be in an office with the door open. Everybody knows you’re available. But when you’re at home or you’re in a different office, it’s not as obvious. So you’ve got to make sure people know you are avaible to them . A few ways to accomplish this is to be active on instant messages/chat/text, to proactively check in often, and to always have your video on when you’re in meetings.
Having your video on is one big thing that can really make a big difference when it comes to your remote presence. When you keep your camera off that sends a signal to your people that that you’re not there for them, that you have other more important things to attend to in the background. Also, utilize video conferencing instead of simply using phone calls when contacting your people. It’s the simple act of seeing somebody that is so powerful when it comes to sending the message that you are present.
The other important type of presence is psychological presence. Psychological presence is where you will create an atmosphere of trust, loyalty and commitment. When you have that psychological presence people will really bond with you. So how do you do it? Well, first of all, be in the moment. Focus on the person in front of you. Put down your cell phone, stop looking at your computer monitor, don’t be typing emails or indulging in the many distractions that are available to us. Be very focused on whoever is in front of you in that moment. Doing this visibly, is a powerful message of interest and presence.
Secondly, ask questions. Demonstrate a deep curiosity.. Nothing says I’m there for you psychologically more than asking questions, clarifying and making sure that they feel you’re really trying to understand and empathize with what’s going on. Pay attention to the nonverbal aspects of your body language. Make sure you’re maintaining eye contact. All these little things says to people that ‘I’m there for you’.
I encourage every leader to be present, to give of themselves. Not just in the workplace. Do it at home too. Giving yourself will create an environment where people are comfortable, whether it’s at home or in a business, and people are going to want to be in a situation where they’re comfortable.