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Leadership Insights #7: Is Your Phone Stealing More Than Just Your Attention As a Leader?

Published 9 months ago • 4 min read

Hello Leaders,

Many years ago, I was taught a lesson that forever altered my relationship with my cell phone, and more critically, highlighted the impact of not being present on my credibility as a leader. It was through an interaction with one of our top-performing representatives, let’s call him Jack.

Our day kicked off in typical fashion – maneuvering through California's busy roads, sharing our favorite, funniest national sales meeting stories, and discussing the plethora of KPIs intrinsic to pharmaceutical sales. Our schedule brought us face-to-face with a range of medical experts, from general physicians to specialized surgery centers. With Jack's presence and insights, what might have seemed like routine tasks transformed into engaging dialogues. Cruising beside the striking landscapes of the California shoreline, we frequently paused to appreciate the joy and privilege of truly loving our professions.

However, as the day progressed and the pings on my phone grew frequent, my attention began to shift. I became more consumed with what was happening on my phone than with Jack who was right in front of me.

Jack called me out on it.

I was so disappointed that I had diminished my trustworthiness in his eyes and had put a dent in my credibility as a leader.

Trust and credibility are the cornerstones of leadership. When a leader continually buries their head in a device, it sends a clear message to the team: "What’s on my screen is more important than you." Over time, such actions erode the very foundations of trust and respect that leadership relies upon. Furthermore, it paints a picture of a leader who's out of touch with their team's needs, aspirations, and feedback.

Jack's forthrightness was a blessing in disguise. It reminded me that leadership isn’t about simply managing tasks, but being genuinely involved in the journeys of those you lead.

True leadership thrives in environments where open dialogue is encouraged, where every team member feels valued, heard, and respected.

In an effort to amend and grow, we shared our story with the entire team. We recognized the need for boundaries and established a protocol to ensure that we remained connected in our interactions, only turning to our devices during specific windows. This not only fostered deeper connections within the team but also reinstated the trust and credibility that had been at risk.

To all leaders, understand this: your presence - physically, mentally and emotionally - carries weight. Your attentiveness, or lack thereof, is a direct reflection of your commitment to your team and the mission at hand. If you aspire to lead with authenticity, trust, and credibility, sometimes, the first and most essential step is merely putting your cell phone down.

-Erin Robison,
Owner/Founder TruPotential Group

In our fast-paced digital age, where notifications constantly vie for our attention, the power of presence becomes even more critical. For leaders or anyone aiming to foster trust, being genuinely present is not just a soft skill; it’s a non-negotiable trait. Let’s explore the importance of being present, its consequences when overlooked, tips to foster it, and resources to guide your journey.

The Importance of Being Present

  1. Fosters Genuine Connections: Being present means actively listening and engaging with those around you, fostering a deeper understanding and making team members feel valued. You create a culture of authenticity and care, and people will begin taking a sincere interest in other’s lives – their families, struggles, or even hobbies.
  2. Enhances Decision Making: A leader who is present can pick up on nuanced details, leading to more informed and strategic decisions.
  3. Creates a Safe Environment: An engaged and present leader creates an atmosphere where team members feel safe to share ideas, concerns, and feedback. They know that you are not only listening to the words they say, but their tone and intent as well. People aren’t worried about gossip or back-stabbing because they know that your leadership facilitates respect and dignity.

Featured Service

The Five Behaviors model focuses on building skills and understanding in the areas of Trust, Conflict, Commitment, Accountability, and Results which provides a common language for your teams as they navigate the ever-changing world of work. The programs helps participants understand how to bring together individual personalities and preferences to build cohesive, high-performing teams.


Featured Resources

How to Build (and rebuild) Trust

Trust is the foundation for everything we do. But what do we do when it's broken?

Begin With Trust

Trust is the basis for almost everything we do. So how do you build up stores of this? By focusing on the three core drivers of trust: authenticity, logic, and empathy.


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The TruPotential training was very informative and interesting. I thought the materials presented by Erin was relevant and useful for those getting ready to staff a booth in a big meeting. I highly recommend it for other companies.

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We are TruPotential Group focused on innovative, energizing leadership development for corporations and teams. We specialize in change management, one-on-one executive coaching, communication & collaboration tools, personality profile assessments, presentation and facilitation skills, media training, in-person and virtual facilitation. Contact us to learn more.

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