One of the characteristics of a gifted servant leader is putting others in front of you. You may be thinking- check that box- I do that! I am humble. I always put others ahead of myself. I have a servants heart. I’m all over this!
Let me give you an area in putting others first that is real struggle for me. This is giving others my attention. Yes I may look, respond, nod, and give them some affirmation that I am with them- but I have the tendency to give them only part of my attention. I multi-task, I focus on what I think is important and I only want to give away a part of me. Horribly selfish!
The message that they receive is that they are not important enough for all of my attention. They are really a nuisance to me. They are simply interrupting me.
I know this is terribly disrespectful, yet I still struggle getting a hold of this issue. Leaders need to realize the power that is available here. By focusing and giving others your undivided attention, you are delivering them a message of their value to you. Here are some tips in this area.
Stop! The first step is to stop what you are doing. Put down whatever you are working on or enjoying. Yes, you are being interrupted, yet you can go back to it and continue later. Guard you reaction. Put them first and stop!
Turn! After you stop and put down your task, turn away from what you were doing and turn toward them. This provides them with reassurance that you value them more than your task or activity. This will provide them with confidence to continue to address you. If you simply look up you can appear to have one foot in each activity.
Focus! You must shift completely away and focus on them. This can be very difficult. Sometimes I am buried in numbers, spreadsheets or contract language and I don’t want to go backwards and give up my spot. The rub here is that you must. Focus on them. Respond in complete sentences. No head nods. Ask questions. Engage. Give up your spot. You can go back and pick up where you left off. There is no other way to do it correctly.
I struggle so much with this. I am a multi-tasker to the core so concentrating on one thing seems foreign to me. Yet I know it is wrong and disrespectful to try to remain focused on my task. I need to give the person my complete attention. One strategy to counteract my tendency is to engage the person in conversation adding some elements outside of their current needs. A personal question shows that you are really concentrating on them. This is not just another “drive-by” interaction!
I know what I need to do and I am getting better, yet I have a ways to go. Stop, turn and focus. Quit the multi-tasking. Honor them with all of you!