The Cost of Presence in Your Organization

Editor’s Note: This post is part of the “Leadership Presence” series, a weeklong effort co-hosted by Switch & Shift and the good people at CEO.com. Keep track of the series here and check our daily e-mail newsletter for all posts. Don’t subscribe? Sign up.

It was costing them roughly $288K a year. Conservatively. This number did not include lost opportunity costs, nor any hard costs. It was simply the expense of negative energy brought into a team meeting leading to lost productivity, distracted focus, and funky team dynamics*. It involved two people within a small team of eight.  And a set of attitudes and negative presence that brought the entire room “down” – almost immediately. The culprit? Poor energetic presence and unintentional impact.

The team had tolerated it for some time. The Team Lead had been afraid to address it directly for fear of backlash, the resources he’d lose if they left, and the potential negative impact on the project. He’d fallen into what I call a “hostage scenario” with his two employees. He tried everything he could to “work around” it. It hadn’t worked and everyone was paying for it energetically; the team, the results, their clients, and even the team’s family members were being impacted.

No one was winning.

Your presence has impact. This impact can be used for good or evil. It can contribute positively to the room and dynamics, take away from them, or downright sink them. How you “show up”, determines which.

Super common, challenging to address at times, easier than it seems (from afar). All of it brought on by presence, a lack of it, or even worse, negative presence. Nine times out of ten, this is unintentional impact; people don’t even realize they’re having it. Once you have the awareness, it’s easier to shift.

So how do you create awareness of your presence as impact?

First things first, realize that you are always having an impact. Always. Yes, you, right here, right now… whether you’re leading your team, or sitting in participation in a meeting, or in the back of the room – your presence has impact. This impact can be used for good or evil. It can contribute positively to the room and dynamics, take away from them, or downright sink them. How you “show up”, determines which.

There is a “rule” I’ve witnessed in working with groups of people and partners: the lowest vibration wins. You may have seen it before, you walk into a meeting, things are humming with 80% of the team, there are 2 people in the room that somehow seem committed to bringing everyone down. Their body language, their facial expressions, their tone of voice, their energy… it’s low, non-contributory, downright assaulting in some cases. And that’s just their presence.

When they open their mouth — physiology informing intellect and intellect informing physiology — they might complain, focus on what doesn’t work, reek of blame and judgment, or simply not participate at all. It’s a drag.

Here’s the rub, unless you are good at holding your own energetic state, it’s going to be easy to glom on to the lowest vibration and join that energetic level rather than stay high – or even neutral. The lowest vibration is attractive and easy to match, unless you’re committed to staying intentional and present and responsible for what you bring to the table. As a leader, the more you can do this, the better your chances of inviting others in the room to step up.

How do you do this?

You can only control your own energetic presence and gratefully, you are contagious. So your best bet (besides giving graceful feedback and asking the complainers on the team to identify the requests they have living underneath the complaints), is to take care of your own “Intentional Energetic Presence®” (IEP) first.

Here is a 5-Step Presence Reboot from the IEP Method® to get you started:

  1. Awareness. Are you having the impact you want to have? Do you feel good? Are people responding to you the way you want them to? Does the room light up or shut down when you walk in? Notice.
  2. Intend. Set an intention for how you want to show up. How do you want to feel? How do you want others in the room to experience you?
  3. Take care. If your presence is not what you’d like it to be, notice what you need. Shift your posture, grab water, stretch, take a quick break, write out that “to do”, clear your mental energy, change your mindset, tap into the state of curiosity or gratitude or both. Notice what you need to do, and do it.
  4. Shift and step in. Just do it. Become it. Show up.
  5. Rinse, repeat & appreciate. Keep coming back to presence – it is a never-ending dance. So breathe, rinse, repeat, and appreciate your super powers to use presence for good and not evil.

As CEO you have the power to set the vibration and tone in the room via your presence and your presence is contagious. Show up intentionally and lead.

*To find your own “energetic presence cost” equation, simply take your average employees’ billable rate, give them two to four weeks of vacation with 40-hour work weeks, and then assume they miss just ONE hour a day of lost optimal productivity, creativity, and thinking from gossiping, fretting, or cleaning up messes that come from negative team dynamics and subpar meetings – voila! You’ll have an idea of your soft costs. (Like I said, conservative.)

 

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Anese Cavanaugh is the creator of the IEP Method (Intentional Energetic Presence) as well as a leadership & collaboration advisor, strategist, and thinking partner for business leaders in the design, service and innovation spaces. Through her speaking, writing and creative leadership programs, people learn how to optimize their leadership and presence, bringing their best selves to the table for greater collaboration, impact, and cultural success. Follow her @ anesecavanaugh.com.

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