There were about 50 people in the group including a number of senior leaders.
The purpose of the workshop was to start socialising an important and inevitable change for the organisation and to engage the support of the people to start making it happen. The senior leaders were there to lead the change.
The workshop started, the facilitator set the scene and introduced the opening speaker from another organisation. As the speaker spoke and we all settled into the workshop space, I noticed that two of the senior leaders were sitting up the front and three of them were sitting together at the back of the room. It soon became clear why: to be able to get on with the more important business of sending emails. texting, chatting amongst themselves, charging their mobile phone/s and sometimes leaving the room (banging the door as they left and returned). Occasionally they’d come up for air, and make a pithy comment or ask a question. Their ability to do this was uncanny.
What intrigued me was their oblivion – to their lack of presence and the impact of the leadership they were enacting.
The elephant in the room for me was the question about just how important is this change anyway? If the senior leaders couldn’t be bothered to make the space to truly engage with their people, why were they there?
Or was it just that appearing to be outrageously busy is the new black? (Which is interesting when you look at the myth busting that neuroscience has done around multi-tasking).
Leadership is more than having a title, doing the training and buying the t-shirt.
It’s about modelling the desired attitudes and behaviours.
Leadership is more than just being in the room.
Leadership is about being mindful, about being present.
I wonder what messages their people took away that day?