Less Available On The Fly, More Available On Purpose

It occurred to me while coaching with a high-level manager that we, as leaders, are often trying to do so much in our role that we rarely do much relating to those who can leverage our role through success in their role.  This particular manager shared the classic day-to-day challenge of constant running – between meetings, calls and firefighting.  The time to truly connect, relate, and equip his leaders was all done on the fly. On the fly is unprepared – on both sides. He’s not really ready, nor are they. And the results match the preparation.

Equipping and coaching require one on one, undistracted, full out presence between both parties. In our conversation he shared a specific instance with a direct report where he did stop, focus, and engage fully with this person and some of the second level reports to expose a misunderstanding of performance. After taking this dedicated time with each of them, clarity and mutual understanding was reached, and guess what! The direct report learned, as did his team. That gave leverage to the leader and bought valuable time then and in the future.

Leading involves influence, culture, relationship and connection.  Managing involves tasks, processes and productivity. Both work together.  Both require, in my humble opinion, some one on one time.  Even if it’s unplanned, slowing down to honor that need of your teammate is so critical to the synergy and consequent success of the team.  It earns respect.

Think about your kids, or, if you coach a sports team, your players. You cannot effectively inspire key changes without some one on one effort. Eye to eye, engaged and two-way interaction, without distraction – that’s the ticket to creating impactful learning and growth.  Often this time can be planned, through set coaching intervals – which I so highly recommend. In addition, though, teachable moments can occur on the fly. In those cases, which is usually the case with our kids, our time to teach is usually in their time, when they are ready, and we are not. Well, time to be ready. In those times, sit down, close the door, close the laptop, put down the phone, turn off the TV, close the book (my challenge), and then look them in the eye, ask questions, listen, learn, and teach.

It’s time we slow down, to speed up.