Thoughts on Authentic Leadership
By John P. Schreitmueller
A primary objective of my coaching practice with senior executives, high profile individuals and business owners is to assist them in self-awareness. Understanding the impact leaders have on those around them – both in the workplace and outside the workplace – is a crucial element in effective communication and development of positive relationships. This type of coaching also requires a great deal of self-awareness on my part, as facilitator and practitioner.
Which leads me to a recent exchange I had on the phone with a banking representative who is not a client. During the phone conversation, which was a simple interaction involving setting up a service, I became aware of the fact I had, within 5 minutes or so into the conversation, uttered the words “real quick” several times. And I wondered, what was the guy on the other end of the line thinking? So I asked him. And he appropriately pointed out that, given the apparent tiny amount of time I had to devote to the conversation, perhaps it would be best to postpone the call until I had time to understand what was taking place. He was trying to provide good service, and I was trying to get the hell off the phone.
While I never, ever use “real quick” with a client, after the phone call, I reflected for a few minutes on how often I say “real quick” to others. To service providers. Maybe even to loved ones. I probably do it a lot. My subconscious justification is that I, like so many hyper-busy professionals and business owners, live in a supercharged, time-urgent world in which there are just too many tasks to complete in too little time. Which sounds like a good, typical “executive” justification. But it is filled with traps.
Understand. Getting things done, correctly and on time, is part of leadership. It comes with the territory. I have to do it; you have to do it. However, as we kick off yet another year, perhaps it is a good time to think about how often “real quick” gets us into trouble.
Relationships are not about “real quick.” Relationships are about time. Time invested to listen, to understand. Even long term relationships require time and presence in the moment. When leaders apply even more time pressure to exchanges that are almost always already time sensitive, those involved in the exchanges feel disadvantaged, and even disrespected. Imagine how you may have felt in the past when confronted with “real quick” and lots of information to convey to someone. Regardless of your leadership position, you probably felt discounted. You may have even been angry. And, what if a loved one used “real quick” on you with any frequency? How much would you like it?
As 2018 unfolds, I am going to pay closer attention to my use of “real quick.” While I am certain there will be instances when “real quick” is necessary, I am also certain there will be many when it is not. Instead, more mindful methodology would fit the bill.
We all know the pace of executive life is punishing. Many of my clients lament the fact they feel on call 24/7/365, thanks to those technological appendages called cell phones, tablets, email, texts and the internet. Living in an environment of chronic time urgency can shape the manners in which leaders behave. I see this frequently in my work. And many of the behavioral by-products of today’s technology marvels are negative.
Here’s the good news: leaders have more control over their predicaments than many are willing to admit. Leaders have the ability, through self-awareness, to observe how often they use “real quick” or similar phrases in instances when “real quick” either (A) fails to accomplish the mission, or (B) accomplishes the mission but with lots of negative relationship debris to clean up afterwards.
Next time you are multi-tasking your way through yet another hectic day, use a moment of that precious time to observe your use of “real quick” on others. And stop. Perhaps there is a better way. In the final analysis, relationships and the precious present are all we really have. Don’t those relationships and the moment in which you are living rate more than “real quick?”
John P. Schreitmueller, PCC, ECP-BC is President and CEO of Resolute Consulting Group LLC. With offices in Atlanta GA and Sarasota FL, his executive coaching and behavioral counseling practice specializes in assisting top leaders and business owners in achievement of their authentic objectives.
Copyright 2018 by Resolute Consulting Group LLC