At my 25-year high school reunion, I found myself going back down memory lane. I had so much fun reconnecting with old friends and making new ones.
As a member of the planning committee, I found myself paying much more attention to the body language and cues at each reunion event, because I wanted to make sure that people were having a good time. As I looked around, I was surprised by how much I noticed after just a few seconds. This reminded me of the importance of truly being in the moment. Although in this case I’m talking about a personal situation, the same concept applies to business.
So, I want to point out three things about “being in the moment” that may be helpful to you as a leader.
1. Notice the valuable information in front of you.
Day to day, most of us are so focused on our own responsibilities, that we overlook the valuable information that others send our way. Whether it’s someone’s look of frustration or anger or their excitement, it gives you insight into how they are feeling. More importantly, it gives you clues about how to respond in that situation.
Let me give you an example of how someone I know has put this into play. I have a former colleague from Deloitte Consulting who has mastered the art of “noticing.” When she enters a room, she quickly looks around and pays attention to the energy level and the body language of each person. So, when she speaks to someone, she already has valuable information that allows her to engage with the person beyond a surface level. She often surprises people when she mentions what she noticed, because she’s usually right on.
2. Send the right message about your leadership.
I remember coaching a manager who literally would have one foot out the door each time he would talk to one of his direct reports. Or even worse, he’d be looking at his BlackBerry the whole time. Yet he was surprised when his 360-feedback report said that his team feels like he doesn’t have time for them and that he just cares about himself.
Although he had a busy schedule like most managers, he recognized that he couldn’t get his job done without his team. On top of that, he really did care about them. So he decided that each morning, he would take five minutes to talk to at least one of his employees as he got his morning coffee. It was a simple strategy that helped him connect with his team before his day got crazy. By making a small investment of his time and giving each person his undivided attention, he communicated that he valued his relationships with them.
3. Take advantage of the opportunity in front of you.
Finally, if your mind is distracted by something other than what’s going on right now, you may miss the opportunity in that moment—to be creative, spontaneous, or something else. You may be so deep in thought or busy checking your PDA that you miss the chance to bring your “A” game.
Here is my Call to Action. Look at your calendar and choose an upcoming meeting to practice “being fully in the moment.” When you get to the meeting, remember to put your technology away so it doesn’t distract you. During the meeting, simply notice what’s going on around you—the body language, tone of voice, energy, and what’s being said. You may be surprised at how much you learn about others, and how much more engaged you are.