It is definitely the most wonderful time of the year- and arguably twice the fun at our house with two holidays and two kids birthdays in the span of 16 days. Our home is alight with Christmas and Hanukkah decorations. I have three school and work gatherings with friends this week, and like many of you, I will be taking time off to spend time with friends and family. As I was listening to some holiday music this weekend, I realized there were some good coaching tips embedded in Christmas carols. Here are my takeaways from Do You Hear What I Hear, The Little Drummer Boy, and Silent Night which sparked my commitment to give the gift of presence throughout the year.
What do you hear? The very essence of coaching is to shift from a place of telling to the place of listening. We know this is the right thing to do, but we also know that it is so much faster to just tell someone the answer or to do it ourselves. But if we give the gift of being present, we can step back and see that the only way to grow our team is to empower them, and that our role as a coach is to ask insightful questions to guide their self discovery. Presence also asks us to assume positive intent. What is it that this employee heard, saw, or knows that led them to make that decision? By remaining curious we build trust with others and gain a more well rounded view of a situation. Allowing the time to pause and ask questions is a gift with lasting impact.
Bring Your Gifts. When we are present, we are not judging, just observing. We notice what people bring and can do, and we invite them to be their authentic selves. Too often we fall into the thinking trap that we need fine gifts that are fit for this meeting/leader/training/ (aka King) so only people who meet our definition of “fine” are invited. What if instead of assuming we know what is needed, we asked our audience what they wanted? If we embrace diversity and stay curious think about what possibilities might unfold. Unwrapping everyone’s unique gifts leads to new discoveries and strengthens teams.
Celebrate the Silence. Finding white space in our minds and in our schedules is one of the hardest things to do. But learning to silence our minds so we can think, not just do, is an amazing gift. As leaders, we should spend more of our time on how to improve, advance, and align the work than being heads down doing the work. The recent post on the Seven Top Leadership Skills for 2020 includes skills such as humility, 360 thinking, being reflective, inspiring, and intellectual versatility. Each of these skills can only happen when we calm our mind, and focus on the important but not urgent work of leadership. This also means taking care of ourselves so we can bring our best selves to work. Prioritizing sleep, exercise, and eating habits should be more that a resolution – it is a gift to bring to ourselves and our team in the new year.
Janice Maeditere said, “Christmas is not as much about opening our presents as opening our hearts.” Wise words that we can reflect on all year. When we open our hearts and minds we can give the gift of presence. We can do this by asking questions, staying curious, and creating space for thinking. So give yourself permission to be more present in 2020 – it is a gift that will keep on giving.