The Power of Showing Up

How Your Absence as a Coach or Leader Can Hurt Your Team and How Showing Up Can be FunIt seems simple enough; if something is important - you show up.  And even when you tell yourself it’s important, it still somehow manages to be the first thing bumped off your to-do list. It’s a normal and human behavior.  We have to make trade offs.  Set priorities.  We can’t do everything so something’s gotta give somewhere. But when our role isn’t the main one, how detrimental can it really be to miss - and more specifically, how detrimental can it be when you as a process coach or management coach don’t attend a project meeting? Here are a few real world examples of how absence can hurt: (sans names, of course.) Incomplete A Process Coach was going on vacation for 2 weeks but told the project leader and team, “Go on without me though.”  They were 3 weeks into the project and for the 2 weeks when the coach was out they cancelled the meetings because they weren’t confident they’d do them right.  No work progressed. A Management Coach missed 3 consecutive project meetings.  At the first meeting, a key Death Threat was identified and the team needed insight from the Management Coach to proceed.  The team made as much progress as possible in the weeks that followed and on the 4th week, the Management Coach became the Death Threat. Ouch. A team was going through a training and got very excited about the Innovation Engineering process.  They couldn’t believe they would be allowed to work in such a way.  But when no one from management came to the training, the team was skeptical that the company and leadership were really committed to doing it, because it was so different from ‘the typical way.’

Sure, some of these seem silly.  But the underlying reason why the teams react this way is simple - fear.  They are in the middle of a major change.  Change creates Chaos.  Chaos creates fear.  And when they have that fear, YOU are one of the things that gives them the confidence to go ahead anyway. Now, to contrast, let me give you some real world tactics of coaches that make time for project meetings where there is none: A Management Coach that books meetings every 30 minutes because he’s a very senior executive, has zero time during the day.  Even when he’s there the fires hit the moment he walks in the door.  So his project team meets at 7:30-8am so he can do the call during his morning commute.  He likes it because he feels like something meaningful has already been accomplished before his day begins. A C-level executive asks her project teams to meet late afternoons after budget meetings.  She says the budget meetings are so awful she needs a pick-me-up, and project meetings give her that boost. Those are a couple of simple tactics I’ve heard already.  I’m sure you could come up with a million more.  The point is, YOU matter.  Your presence MATTERS.  Even if you say all but 2 words because the project team seems on course, you BEING THERE told them they’re on the right track, doing the right things and getting support.   A very wise Management Coach once told me, “I find that telling my organization I want them to innovate and use this process is one thing.  They get excited.  It’s the “promise.”  But my being there and all the small and seemingly insignificant things I do to show my support, are the “proof” that I really mean it.”