The leader was a few weeks into a senior management role at a large company, contemplating the relationships she needed to develop. I was secretly pleased that she had thought about that as her first priority in the new position. For many leaders who are new in their role, developing relationships with key stakeholders isn’t top of mind. This leader had been diligent in mapping out the individuals and groups she needed to meet, and was working with her assistant to get those meetings scheduled.
“What’s your intention for these meetings?” I asked her. She was thinking about that. You could have heard a butterfly’s wings in the silence that followed. When she spoke her answer, she said that her intention was, “To listen.”
Next I asked her, “How do you want to show up in these listening meetings?” She had a very interesting response to that question too: “I want to show up as myself; caring and attentive.” That gave us the opportunity to discuss what others will see when she shows up that way, and how she can manage herself to be caring and attentive.
Once she realized her intent for these meetings and landed on how she wanted to show up, she could get busy preparing for them, writing notes about introductory comments, sketching out a few questions to ask, and thinking about what it means to her and her audiences show up authentically.
Are you reacting instead of being proactive?
How often do you go about your day in reaction mode? How frustrated do you get when what you’d really intended to have happen in a meeting turned out to be something less than you desired? There may be a solution, and it starts with managing yourself proactively.
Setting an intention for your interactions with others whether you are new to a role or seasoned in one can be a great way to manage yourself. When you think through your intention for a meeting, encounter, or connection, the interactions you have turn out to be something far better than a free-for-all (leaving you feeling drained) and something less than controlling (which can drive those on the other side of your conversation crazy).
Asking yourself about your intention and how you want to show up proactively before an encounter can make you a better leader. Taking a moment to think about how you want to show up is a leadership move that refines your intention, and puts you in control of yourself.
More From Mary Jo Asmus
Mary Jo Asmus is an executive/leadership coach whose work spans decades of making a difference in the lives of hundreds of executives, leaders and teams in Fortune 500, mid- and small- sized business, governments and nonprofits. She focuses on facilitating individuals and teams from first-line supervisor to the C-suite to create, develop, and influence the relationships that can make them extraordinary.