As leaders, our visibility is important, but our Active Presence is crucial. In an analysis of John P. Kotter’s book What Leaders Really Do, it’s noted that effective leaders spend most of their time (up to 90%) with other people, and much of that time is spent in an informal way. In other words, effective leaders aren’t sitting in formal meetings all day trying to solve the organizations issues. They are out and about talking with people, listening, asking questions and getting to know people. They are seeking to understand their organization from a ground floor level.
Effective leaders are Actively Present with those in the organization. They are authentic in their desire to understand the organization from those that are doing the day to day work. They are intentional about spending time with people in an informal setting. They are listening more than speaking, and they are connecting with people in order to understand at a deeper level how to make the organization better.
Active Presence allows for upward communication, listening, relationship building, authentic connections and understanding the challenges of the work that is to be done. Make no mistake, when you are actively present, you are leading.
Some questions to consider:
- When you visit classrooms, are you connecting with others or are you just out to be seen?
- What questions do you ask when you are visiting teachers, parents and students?
- Do your questions facilitate meaningful conversations about the school? Learning?
- Do you see your informal conversations as a key ingredient in your leadership?