Being a leader in today’s world demands more than leadership has demanded in the past. What worked before is suddenly not enough. We have a pandemic, we have strong political differences and we have a heightened sensitivity to systemic racism all around the world.


To pretend that this doesn’t exist, is highly irresponsible, if you are leading or having any level of influence in your family, your teams, your clients and your business. Now is not the time to put on blinders and become tone deaf to the fears, frustrations and concerns being felt by humans all over the world.


Being a leader in these times demands a next level of presence.


What does that mean exactly? Look around at the leaders that you follow. What are they being present to? What are they messaging? Are they aware of the temperatures in their communities? Or, has it been business as usual without any acknowledgement of what you may or may not be experiencing, fearing, or needing?


You see, we look to leaders for guidance, direction and a role modeling of behaviors. But, we also look to feel seen, heard, respected and acknowledged by our influencers. If you’ve ever had a situation occur in your life that was significant, wouldn’t you have appreciated any acknowledgment of that experience by those who were influential in your life?


You don’t necessarily expect someone to swoop down and fix all of your problems or have all of the answers. But to acknowledge your challenges as well as your triumphs is a key ingredient to feeling seen and heard, especially in troubling times. Look at your own leadership. Are you creating a level of presence to what your communities may be experiencing that allows them to feel seen, heard, acknowledged and respected by you?


Being present to the fear, the stress, and the challenges that the world is facing, creates a level of trust and safety in you, as a leader. Being tone-deaf, is a level of privilege that is no longer working in leadership. The emotions are too strong to pretend that they don’t exist.


Here are 3 very simple ingredients, that are needed in today’s climate, that will elevate your leadership to the next level.


  1. ASK – be curious enough to ask what your family, your teams, your audience is feeling and experiencing with everything that’s going on. Be present to the fact that some people are doing fine and others are struggling. Have the presence of mind to ask how people are really doing and where they need extra support. You may not have the answers, but being present to the fact that some may be struggling in one way or another will go a long way.


  1. LISTEN – now that you’ve asked, it wouldn’t be appropriate to gloss over the results and move on. How can you create a feeling of safety in what was shared with you? We are all hearing a lot of things that we don’t necessarily agree with. But, when someone in your communities feels seen and heard by you, you have a greater level of influence with that person.


  1. ACKNOWLEDGE – again, back to presence. Acknowledge the pain, struggle, challenge and even the triumph of your people. Now is not the time to make people wrong for what they are feeling or experiencing and tell them what they should and shouldn’t be doing. Now is not the time to “should” on your people. Acknowledgment is an important step in increasing your influence. “I know you are feeling x, y, z… I know it’s not easy… I hear you and I see you and together, we will find a way to….”


All may be good with you and maybe the changes in the world have benefited you in some way. Next level leadership requires you to be present and have a level of generosity that allows you to see beyond your personal bubble.


Be a next level leader. Be present to the experiences of your communities. Create fans, not just followers.

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