Are You Available?
By: Randy Wolken, President & CEO

As a leader or team member, are you present and available when the need arises?  The speed of business has never been faster.  We are expected to keep up – and even excel in this environment. However, to do so, we must know when to slow down and even stop so we can be present to what is right in front of us.

Leaders are increasingly asked to be future focused.  An eye to the future allows for the right decisions and actions. However, if we are always focused on the future we will miss what is in front of us now.  Constantly being in a hurry and wishing to move to the next item can send the signal we do not have time for those around us.  They feel less valued.  They may keep their observations and insights to themselves.  Pausing to see and listen to others is a valuable leadership skill we all need to focus on.

So, what does this kind of availability look like?  For me, it comes in the form of putting down what I am working on when someone enters my office or greets me when I see them at a member company or community event.  It requires me to put aside my agenda and thoughts and be open to their conversation and views.  I need to listen, ask clarifying questions, and thank them for taking the time they have spent with me.  I try to smile when someone approaches me which is sign that I am glad to see them and open to hearing from them.

With team members, I go to their spaces and sit in conference rooms.  I prefer to meet with them in places and spaces that communicate that we are teammates with an opportunity to listen to each other’s insights and to get meaningful work done together.  I try hard not to be distracted by digital devices or other priorities. If I truly care, I want to be fully present when we are together.  I can get caught up on email, texts, and my other work after the conversation or meeting.

One of the most important roles of a leader is to be fully present.  How are you at being fully present to your team members?  Are you welcoming when they need your attention?  What are some of your strategies you use to makes yourself available during your busy times?  These are good questions to ask ourselves periodically so we can honor those people we work with with our genuine presence.