I’ve been recording the latest season of the Still Loading podcast recently, and have been blown away by the insights and wisdom from my guests, as well as the richness of our conversations as we explore what leadership means for the digital age today. 

One nugget of wisdom that resonated with me last week was that a key attribute of great leaders people have been inspired by in their lives, is someone who was attentive to them. 

It really is as simple as ‘attention is connection’. 

As leaders, one of the most important ways in which we can connect with our teams, is to ensure that we give them our full attention. Recently I have been trying to be more present and attentive with people in work meetings, with friends or even by myself, instead of being distracted by other things. 

We now work and live in a world designed to distract us. In fact Nir Eyal has written a book all about how we need to become ‘indistractable’ as we live in an all consuming attention economy

The digital economy is designed to keep us engaged and to consume content constantly and intensely so that we are then driven to pay attention to whatever person, brand or product they want us to see. 

I would argue that in today’s digital world, it is a courageous act to be present and attentive to what is directly in front of us in the moment. 

What I see in my work, is that Leaders need to model this behaviour in their teams more than ever, and well before they demand it from others, so as to demonstrate what they want to see. 

If you want your teams to be present on team meetings, client calls etc., then you need to do it yourself first. It’s so much harder as a leader to get someone to do something that you are not doing yourself. 

In virtual meetings now, I no longer look at emails, and I turn off notifications to make sure I am fully present with my team and my clients. Not only does this help me to show up and provide my best work, but I also remember more of what actually happened and I can get to a deeper level of listening and understanding, which means I can solve more complex problems. 

Surface level listening is so 1990’s. 

We’ve all had experiences in the past where someone’s attention or lack of attention has led to a better relationship or a worse one. Can you recall a time when someone ignored you or dismissed you or even didn’t really respond to your question because they weren’t really listening? 

This is attention. 

By not being attentive to your teams or your clients, you preventing yourself from building connections, and therefore you cannot build strong relationships that can weather your business through any ‘the pound is falling down’ worries in the economy. 

If you have leaders who are attentive to their teams, they will build better connections with the people that work for them. 

When I work with a scale up to optimise their Customer Success teams, the first thing I get them to think about is how they can connect with their customers better. Rather than focusing on the volume of meetings or connection points, I have seen incredible results for my clients when they start giving their customers more focused attention. 

Attention leaders to connection, and connection leads to better business results. 

So how do you build that attention? 

I would encourage leaders to start with themselves. You may have been distracted by life, digital technology or workload for a while now, so be patient with this process. 

One tool that is powerful is setting a reminder on your phone (use the technology to help you with this) asking yourself the following questions 5 times a day at different times of the day: 

  1. Who am I? 
  2. Where am I? 
  3. What am I doing? 

You will be amazed at how transformative it can be to reconnect you to yourself in the present moment. This simple act helps leaders to develop self awareness, and to connect with themselves instead of being constantly distracted by other things. 

The greater your attention with yourself, the better your connection, so start here. Self-awareness means better leaders. 

The second thing is to examine your digital behaviours at work. 

One coaching client I spoke to, who is quite senior, has had a line manager that has not kept a single 121 meeting appointment for over a year now. Every two weeks without fail, at the time of the appointment there’s a new reason why the meeting needs to be moved, rescheduled or cancelled. 

What do you think this says to the employee about their line manager’s attention and therefore connection to them? Do they feel like their time and input matters? 

Needless to say, they’re looking for new opportunities. 

If you schedule a meeting as a leader, always keep it, unless cancelling is absolutely unavoidable. Too often the trap of digital ways of working means we can let things slide and minimise the impact that behaviour might have on our teams. Model the behaviour you would want to receive yourself. 

Use your self-awareness to build better behaviours in yourself. Better behaviour means better attention to how it impacts others, which means better connection with your team. 

Attention can build better connection with ourselves, our teams and our customers, and as a leader, this transformation starts with you. 

If you want to learn more about how we can help you create leaders fit for the digital age, get in touch to book a free 30 minute strategy call. I can either work with you one on one, or design bespoke programmes with my team for your business to drive growth in the direction of your goals. 

I can’t wait to connect with you. 

You have my attention!