A monthly leadership blog focused on transformational leadership, and the presence of leadership, courtesy of and authored by Phil Henderson.

Athletes tirelessly practice to become better at their sport. Doctors practice medicine to become better doctors. Likewise, leaders practice leadership to become better leaders. It’s no less time consuming and exhausting putting in the work to be a well-respected leader than it is to become a world-class athlete or renowned physician.

Leadership is a contact sport. Contact, in this context, is “presence” – with the highest level of presence being face-to-face (or “FTF”) contact. I know… FTF interactions can be time-consuming, especially when you could quickly fire off an email or text instead – not to say that emailing, text messaging (even an old-school phone call!) don’t all have their places as valuable communication methods.

FTF interactions provide the greatest opportunity to add & multiply; on the other hand, it also presents a chance to subtract & divide. (see Math of Leadership)

Make note of your interactions and how effectively you apply the Math of Leadership. Keep a personal scorecard of some kind. Don’t overthink tracking and scoring though – the simpler the better. Carve out a little time each day to reflect. Ask yourself where you added and/or multiplied, and where you may have subtracted and/or divided. If unsure, ask someone who was present – whom you trust – to give you their perspective.

Track your number of daily FTF communications, separating meetings from one-on-one (1:1) interaction, as meetings don’t offer the same relationship-building opportunities that are inherent to a 1:1. Make an effort to extend 1:1 contact beyond your direct reports, thereby building credibility and reliability throughout your entire organization.

FTF interactions are an important part of practicing leadership and putting the work in as a leader. It’s both exhausting and rewarding, but you will experience many more ups than downs the more you practice and put in the work.

Be purposeful in this effort. It’s so easy for ever-present desk work to become nearly all-consuming. Too often, our desire to do differently, to be someone different as a leader, is overcome by this busywork. Know your business, know the people, know that the people know you, and have a presence.

Business first. People always.

taking action; organization; leadership; Phil HendersonPhil Henderson is a former Regional VP of Manufacturing Operations at Harland Clarke Holdings. He is a Designer of Self-Directed, Team-Based Work Systems in manufacturing environments over the course of 26 years. He served 8 years as an Air Traffic Controller and Officer in the US Army, and with distinction as a Captain in the First Gulf War. He currently provides leadership development and self-directed work team design assistance to Trenton Forging. For inquiries, Phil may be reached at (210) 316-3212 or at pizzobe@yahoo.com