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Embracing Presence: a Leadership Reflection at Year End

Paint on sidewalk that reads "end of"
Photo Courtesy of Etienne Girardet and Unsplash

As another year draws to a close, it is a great time to reflect, celebrate, and

anticipate the future. For leaders, this is a great opportunity to pause. With gentle contemplation, consider the profound impact of presence on effective leadership; leadership that transcends strategies, spreadsheets, and profit margins.

Though the concept of presence may seem elusive in a fast-paced world, it remains a timeless attribute that supports exceptional leadership. Presence goes beyond physical availability, extending to genuine engagement, empathy, and connection with those you lead. As someone who values a person-centric approach, it’s difficult for me to see a strategy, a spreadsheet, or a P&L report and not consider who created them. It’s a loving reminder that human beings are the heartbeat of any company, not technology.

The Essence of Presence in Leadership:

Presence in leadership embodies a multifaceted approach that fosters trust,

nurtures relationships, and cultivates a positive organizational culture. It involves being more than just present in the physical space. It requires active listening, empathetic understanding, and genuine interest in the experiences, ideas, and concerns of your team members. Authentic presence and true engagement honors their humanity, fosters trust, and strengthens interpersonal connections.

When I think of a leader who exemplifies presence, the first person to come to mind is Dorri McWhorter, President and CEO of YMCA Metropolitan Chicago. I witnessed and experienced power of presence with her when I worked with her on an initiative. She modeled the gift of human connection. She was welcoming spirit. There are many things I can say about Dorri, but for the sake of brevity, I’ll share this: Dorri made a conscious choice to learn more about those who she worked with. Dorri set a goal to have lunch with groups of three throughout the year. During these lunch meetings, we barely discussed work. She created space to learn more about who we are and what mattered to us – an authentic expression and powerful connection.

Establishing a presence - and being present - also supports building trust that forms the foundation of a cohesive and high-performing team. Leaders who demonstrate integrity, transparency, and reliability engender a sense of security and loyalty among their team members. Understanding the emotions and perspectives of those you lead is core to being a present leader. This kind of empathy enables leaders to make informed decisions, tailor their approach to individual needs, and inspire a culture of compassion and inclusivity.

I am in no way suggesting that you take your entire organization to lunch. Dorri’s decision was unorthodox - and some may even say radical. However, it was both memorable and meaningful for me. It’s a beautiful reminder of the power of heartfelt connections.

A leader’s presence sets the tone for the entire organization. When leaders exhibit a healthy work ethic, remain open to new ideas, maintain a positive attitude, and prioritize well-being, they inspire others to follow suit.

Woman sitting at computer in pink room looking away reflecting
Photo Courtesy of Magnet Me and Unsplash

Pause here for a minute to gently reflect on a moment when you felt empowered to be more of yourself because of how someone made you feel. Use that memory as fuel to propel you forward.

Embracing a Present Future:

As leaders, this is a great time to reaffirm our commitment to embracing presence and a people-centric approach as guiding principles in your journey. Presence is an ongoing commitment that enriches relationships, fortifies teams, and propels organizational success.

As we say farewell to this year, make note of the lessons you've learned, the

connections you've nurtured, and the list of priorities that you have to ensure that your leadership presence continues to inspire, empower, and resonate (with authenticity) in the year to come.

Lastly, remember to find joy in your journey. Here’s to a future marked by your presence and enduring leadership impact.

Person standing with their arms outstretched in front of a lake with buildings in the background
Photo Courtesy of Leohoho and Unsplash

Melanie Foote-Davis, The Fulfillment Coach

My name is Melanie Foote-Davis and I am The Fulfillment Coach for WeInspireWe. With over 20 years of experience in leadership, training and team development, I discovered that my desire to live and work in harmony was a driving force in my life and is central to my coaching. Through my attention to detail, ability to resolve conflict, reduce employee turnover and support retention, and build relationships, my clients walk away with a stronger connection to themselves and to the worlds they serve. If you are ready to step into a more conscious version of yourself, I’d be honored to guide and support your journey. I invite you to schedule a call with me.

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