When I worked with Chief Executives and their teams there were some features that really stood out.
They would be really present with me in the time allocated
They would be open and curious but they would require a short succinct precise of a proposal no matter how complex with an intelligent summary of impact
They would listen to what I was saying
They would respond to me
They made space for the subject at hand
They recognized the heart of what was being said and were clear in their own response to what was coming up
They were not hurried.
They appreciated what was being presented for what it was
They interpreted this through their role and their personal values and therefore through a personal integrity
My role was not to persuade or make their decisions for them, it was to bring my intelligence, experience and perspective to bear on their context. Responding to this, they could take the pearl I was offering them and slot it into the complex mosaic of interests that they had to consider.
The best people in these roles also valued who I was and what I was bringing. This did not mean they agreed with me but they valued who I was, And this was also a part of the offering I was making whether across a day, a morning, a meeting agenda item or a ten-minute presentation.
I loved working at this level because of the intelligence and intimacy of being truly attended to by capable busy people. I also loved being an independent consultant so I could share the patterns I was seeing in their organizations and teams to support how they made sense of complexity. Their value was to see through the proliferation of data in a constantly shifting system interconnecting with its environment and to direct simple attention to the most valuable outcomes.
The quality of Presence
With the best of these executives there is a quality of ‘presence’. They are really present in the moment and the intelligence they are using is not simply of their intellect. It is not just analyzing the past to make strategies for the future . That is the role of their staff. Their role is to use all of themselves in the present moment to respond to what is being shared and this goes far beyond cognitive processes. They are using their whole sensing body to hold an understanding of the organization as a whole and still be open to the new that is being presented. They are attuned to a ‘field’ of information in which they are centred. They are open emotional and intuitive.
This is why so many great leaders are known for having terrific hunches. They seem to be able to steer a path through what is unfolding to successful futures. They can be a joy to work with because they are creatively engaged with their environment. Their greatest value is the capacity to winnow down to the simple truths in the moment. And because new ‘truths’ are constantly emerging the new needs to be weaved into present understanding but held lightly, like an acrobat on a wire.
I share these experiences because the best of the leaders in these roles exemplify the model of my work. They have natural power that comes from being aligned in their heart. They use grounded gut feelings that gives the capacity to extend their knowing beyond the presenting complexities to identify simple new truths that create impact. And they do this operating with the stories, myths and archetypes of their organization as they hold the dreams for a greater future. Yet most of them would not describe their roles in this way. These are gifts that have developed in honing their business skills, usually with personal values that help guide them.
What those leaders were also able to do was to create partnership with me by allowing me to tune in with them and then freewheeling wherever spirit took us. I often ask myself what would be the ‘story’ of my own ways of leading? What are your own stories?