Tuesday, September 22, 2009

When Leaders Cry

I saw leaders cry today, at the end of a workshop I co-facilitated. They didn't cry because the workshop or the facilitator were so bad...they cried because they expressed heartfelt appreciation to others, and had it expressed to them in return. For a precious afternoon, they let down their guard, engaged their hearts and realized it was a good thing not only for human relationships but for business. Both and. What a concept.

When you appreciate others, recognizing and building upon their strengths, you set loose a vocational revolution. People move from worker-bee to leadership perspectives. Jaded managers regain their sense of inspiration and help organizations break through barriers to success.

Appreciation, respect and caring are not hard to express. Such behaviors are some of the easiest a leader will ever have to execute. But they seem to be some of the hardest to remember to execute.

Why is that?

In my opinion, leaders are often inconsistent in expressing appreciation and building on others' strengths because of fear. They fear they won't get a desired result if they slow down to extend the human touch or take their momentary focus off of the employee's areas of opportunity. Fear is a key symptom of lack of presence, lack of being fully engaged with the person before you and the latent possibilities. The mind is zooming ahead to potential consequences, missing out on what could be done right now to make things better. Much of the frustration in a leader's life--and, furthermore in any one's life--is grounded in failing to make the most of the moment at hand because of fear, anxiety, distraction, etc. The moment to come is always more eagerly anticipated, so no moment is every fully enjoyed or capitalized to its fullest.

Leaders cried today because they were fully engaged in the experience of the moment. Heart touched heart, spirit touched spirit. And the business did not come grinding to a halt in the process. My hunch is that the business will be even more vital tomorrow, a day full of present moments.


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