Presence and Absence in Leadership (March 2020)

Harvard Business Review suggested that the most common form of incompetent leadership involves absenteeism. Too often, leadership theorists focus on the different ways that people try to be ‘present’ in team environments and then exercise ‘influence’ in pursuit of team goals. When leaders restrict their presence and influence, the void can be perceived as ‘absence.’

However, there is a contradiction in the prescription of ‘absence’ as ‘incompetence.’ Many of HBR’s resources emphasize *listening* as the foundation of ‘effective leadership.’ These approaches show that ‘active presence’ in a team setting can veer into domination and myopia. They point readers toward a balance between listening and influencing.

The balance is never static, though. Every setting requires a new insight about the specific participants, current moment, and time-sensitive goals/outcomes. These varieties of circumstances take new meaning in the context of a global pandemic. The pressure to move into a dominant mode can be tempting, but it is a short-term benefit that can often undermine long-term team performance. Careful discernment and listening during a crisis will yield the best ongoing results for most teams.

Author: waltergreason1

Public Figure.

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