MINDFUL

By Jay Ledesma

WE are all familiar with the proverbial saying, "absence makes the heart grow fonder.” It means that when people we love are not with us, we love them even more. It conveys the idea that when we are far from someone, that’s the time we realize how much they mean to us, how much we care for them and how much we truly miss them. The absence is supposed to make us appreciate that someone even more.  

But while this adage may work in some long-distance relationships, this does not apply when we are talking about leadership. Especially during crisis, like this pandemic that we are in, being an absentee leader is a BIG NO. Leaders today have to be very visible. One of my former colleagues shared that when the pandemic happened, her boss immediately connected with all of them made sure they are all okay, and would give them regular updates. She said, “the voice of my leader gave me direction and kept me focused. While a number of a leader’s tasks can be delegated, being present for his people is the sole job of a leader. Leadership is not about how others talk on your behalf, or how you are promoted by your image consultants or how you are related or affiliated with someone or something. Leadership is about why, how, and who you are with your people. Thus, leaders have to be seen, be heard, and be felt by their people.  

Leaders need to be seen. The famous Hollywood actor Woody Allen couldn’t have stressed more the importance of one’s presence when he said, “80% of success is just showing up.” This is exactly true when we talk about leadership. Amidst all the disruptions and uncertainties brought by the pandemic, people want to see their leader for assurance and comfort. People need to know that their leader is around and reachable, can listen to them and is someone whom they can turn to and will look after their welfare. Oftentimes, people are not expecting for some miracles or big actions from their leaders, but only their presence and attention. Just by mere showing up in their team members’ meetings, gatherings, or dropping by at their workstations, leaders are already influencing the behaviors of their people. Have you noticed how we behaved and performed at our best when our bosses/leaders are around? And how discouraged we feel when they fail to show up in events that we consider important? When we have regular sight of our leaders, we feel valued, supported and respected.  When was the last time you saw your leader and made you feel this way?   

Leaders need to be heard. Not only are leaders should be seen, they should also be heard. With the proliferation of misinformation and fake news and the confusion they bring, leaders need to speak up and be heard for direction and clarity. They have to ensure that there is a more open line of communication between them and their people and that they are the main source of information. A lot of times, people are forced to speculate, assume and come up with their own conclusions because their leaders failed or refused to listen, talk to them, and address their questions and source of confusion. With all the changes and challenges happening around us, leaders have to grab all the opportunities and platforms to make their thoughts, ideas, and plans be heard and known by their people. Leaders of today are lucky to have all the online communication platforms for them to engage, interact and dialogue with more people anytime and anywhere. It’s been observed among employees, that when their leaders share information and provides clarity and direction, they tend to be more motivated and productive. When our leaders speak, we hear the authenticity and sincerity, or the lack of it. When was the last time you heard from your leader? Is your leader making the efforts to be heard by the people whom he/she is supposed to lead and serve? 

Leaders need to be felt. What we are all going through now can really be tough and challenging. We don’t only worry about the war between Russia and Ukraine but we have our own war against the virus, fuel price hike, volatile market, etc., that we have to face and fight right here, right now. And in the midst of this, we need a leader who can empathize with us and can feel what we are going through because he/she is with us in our fight. A leader is someone who can make us feel that we are not alone in our struggles and hardships. Someone who makes the effort to know what is happening on the ground, to be where the "action is" and to do something about it. We appreciate leaders who make us feel their care and concern, not only through their programs and initiatives but through their personal involvement. Ready and available to give encouragement when things get tough, to give praise for every achievement, and to provide inspiration that keeps us going and the confidence to move forward. When was the last time you really felt the presence and support of your leader? Was he/she a leader at the moment or an after-the-fact leader?  self seen, heard and felt by the people you lead and hope to lead?   Leadership visibility is critical! Be mindful that your absence will not necessarily make the heart of your team members grow fonder of your leadership. 

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About the Columnist

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Ms. Jay Ledesma writes about local tourism and business bits that delve on investments and insurance.