The power of presence
Apr 05, 2017
It was a 9 hour flight from Heathrow to Mumbai. The departure was pretty eventless and on time. The flight had leveled off to a cruise. Tired from the pre-departure routine, almost everyone on the plane had dozed off and the cabin crew had dimmed the lights. Suddenly an announcement was made through the public address system “Is there a doctor on the plane? A passenger is in urgent need of a doctor”
To cut a long story short, one of the passengers had suffered a heart attack. A middle aged woman stood up and waved to the crew. The staff quickly took the lady to the person who needed medical support. For the next hour or so, as the pilot arranged to land at the nearest airport in the middle of the night, this lady was calm and assertively did whatever she could to stabilize the patient. It was as if time had stopped. Everyone, awake now, was glued to their seat observing her. Every passenger, wanting to be as helpful as possible, was part of the moment. Neither the past nor the future mattered. All this in absolute silence. This is what is called presence.
Quoting from a book called “Presence based coaching” by Doug Silsbee, “Presence brings us into direct experience of a larger truth. This might mean seeing clearly and directly who we are, who another person is, how we fit into a bigger picture, what the situation really is, what is possible for us, or what choices are available to us.”
Effective leaders usually create a very impactful positive presence around them. By this presence, they radiate their purpose without the need for spoken words and magically bond many people to the purpose. A down to earth example – a Dad’s presence at home is normally differently perceived by children and their behaviour is implicitly different around such presence. Presence is extremely important for coaches. The two most important virtues of coach presence in a coaching relationship are Empathy and Unconditional Positive Regard.
The good news is – presence is a competency and one can develop this with focus and effort.
For the record, as we landed in Mumbai, we heard from the pilot that the patient we had left in able hands, in an unknown country, was safe and recovering well. The whole plane applauded showing their appreciation for the lady on board.
Would you like to spend a minute and ponder over what presence you radiate as a leader?