- On March 31, 2015
K., an executive with a global technology provider, shared a story about an experience early in her career that shaped the leadership presence she has today.
I had an appointment with my boss to discuss some concerns I had on a big project I was working. I felt it was important that my boss be informed of the potential impact for the direction we were taking.
I was shown into his office. He never took his eyes off his computer, just said “Sit down, what do you need?”
I knew how to talk with executives so I kept it short with the salient facts and clear implications laid out.
He never looked at me. He was doing something on his computer the whole time, interjecting “uh-huh” while I spoke.
I asked if he had any questions or needed more information. There were a few minutes of silence, while his fingers moved across the keyboard. Then he turned to me and said, “You should do this, this and this…anything else?”
I was so shocked by his abrupt approach I didn’t know how to respond, so I left the office.
In my opinion, the advice he gave me at the end had nothing to do with the problem I had presented. But I’m thinking…”he’s an executive so he must know something I don’t,” so I went away to mull it over.
I just couldn’t see how his approach would do anything to better the program, so I made a decision to go in the original direction and it turned out fine.
Maybe that was his hidden agenda… to get me to commit to a direction on my own. But I honestly don’t think he gave it that much forethought. I think he was just not listening.
I left my highly-anticipated meeting feeling very deflated. Here was a chance to connect with my boss on something I felt was very important, and he spent the whole time responding to emails, and then jumped right to a conclusion that seemed totally inappropriate for the issue I had presented.
My project worked out very well and I decided to move on to another company.
That ‘boss meeting’ experience is still a vibrant memory today, years later. I vowed I would never be a manager like that.
When I have an appointment with an employee, I block out all distractions and let them talk, listening for how I can help them work through the issue. I try not to judge or jump to a solution too fast. I want them to leave my office feeling heard, understood, and valued.
Who wouldn’t want to work with a boss like that?
K. is giving her employees the gift of her time and interest. She demonstrates mindfulness by being fully present and non-judgmental with her employees and empathy by trying to understand the issues from their perspective and refraining from jumping to a boss-focused solution.
What boss experiences have you had that influenced your leadership presence?
Photo: Nadiia Korol @Shutterstock