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What matters

SOUTHWEST ASIA -- Over the past 27 years, I have experienced a multitude of events throughout my career which has shaped the way I choose to lead. As leaders, we have a lot of competing priorities and taskers to juggle daily and one can easily, but unknowingly, neglect basic leadership principles. At the end of the day, I wholeheartedly believe the following three concepts “really matter”: your presence; what you say and how you say it; and individual attention.


Your presence matters


Personal presence is actually a state of being and when mastered, it can allow you to tap into your higher choices, reduce fears and greatly influence the people around you


Having presence isn’t about being the loudest person in the room or the one with the biggest ego or charisma. It’s simply about being present and engaged in the moment, bringing your highest energy and self into a situation and being truly authentic. You can also have presence simply by the way you choose to listen to another person, or how attentive you are during a meeting.


There are a number of ways to improve your presence such as:


  • Managing your mind and your body through activities like meditation, breathing exercises, regularly exercising, and eating right
  • Regularly asking yourself, “How do I present myself every day?” and “Do people feel good after I connect with them or not?”
  • Nurturing your network by establishing good relationships with people in and out of your organization
  • Living in the moment; be mindful and be present
  • Learning to work with your energy; know what drains you and what elevates or strengthens your energy

What you say and how you say it matters


When it comes to leadership, it's all about the delivery. Of course what you say matters, but how you say it – how you relate to others – is what differentiates great leaders from the pack.


It is important to have innovative ideas, but if you can't deliver them in a way that connects with people and relates to them in a meaningful way, you won't get results.


Here are some tips to improve your delivery:


Look people straight in the eye and really "see" them. When you look someone straight in the eye, you're initiating a potentially deep connection that can't be achieved any other way. It also shows respect. There's nothing more dismissive and demeaning than not "recognizing" someone by looking directly at them.


Be direct and genuine. It's hard to be straightforward and direct with people, however, the more direct and genuine you are with people, the greater their sense of trust and respect they'll have for you.


Executive presence isn't about power and domination. This is perhaps the biggest misconception about executive presence. It doesn't come from command and control. It comes from connecting and relating, from sharing your passion in a way that's meaningful to others. It breaks down barriers.


Learn to be a storyteller. People relate to stories and storytellers. People don't remember facts and figures or even logical arguments as well as they remember stories. If you really want to relate to people in a deep way, tell them stories they can relate to.


Increase your self-awareness. How you say things is more about how you feel than what you think. If people have trouble relating to you or respecting you, chances are you're not as self-aware as you think you are. The only way to change that is to find out what your Airmen, peers, and your boss like and don't like about the way you communicate with them. Being open to feedback is the only place to start improving this aspect.


Individual attention matters


Every individual matters. Every individual has a role to play. Every individual makes a difference.


To inspire, you need to pay attention to your people. Ask them how they’re doing? How’s your family doing? What’s going on today? What can I help you with? It increases morale and productivity, because you’re showing you care.


A little appreciation and praise can go a long way to boost morale.


The desire for recognition is a basic human need and we, as leaders, can easily fulfill this need, which will in turn bring out the best in people. Putting deserving people up for awards, recognizing members at huddles or staff meetings, celebrating birthdays, promotions, reaching back to leadership at home station via email or phone call and even saying thank you goes a long way.