Recently after giving a keynote on my book “Is This Seat Taken?” and the power of the random encounter, a friend told me about a fabulous book which covers a related concept. The name of the book is Touchpoints, and it explores the importance of leaders being engaged in every single ‘touchpoint’ they have with individuals in their organization. The author, Douglas Conant, the CEO of Campbell Soup, emphasizes the need to be present in the moment, which is a core tenant of my book as well.
This is an excellent read. He emphasizes that having an effective ‘touchpoint’ is much more than just coaching someone about an effective presentation, going on a sales call with them, or even joining them on a plant tour. It is about really connecting, being present – eyeball to eyeball – and moving the collective agenda forward. He summed his perspective of effectively engaging into the ‘4 A’s’ (all of which I embrace 100%). They are:
1. Be Alert. This is all about being alert; not only to the actual outcome of an event, whether this is a sales call, a presentation, or a piano recital. We need to be alert and tuned into the entire experience. As leaders, we need to pay attention to the ‘how’ of the overall experience. The ‘how’ are the nuances, the thought patterns which emerge, and being alert to the core issue which drives each of us.
2. Be in Abundance. A lot has been written about abundance in recent years. In a nutshell, when we refer to choosing abundance versus scarcity, this is all about changing our perspective. The infamous half-empty versus half-full viewpoint. In fact, just changing a simple word – from “or” to “and” – can open new possibilities. For example: scarcity may sound like, “We can either make our sales numbers this quarter or build the relationship for next year.” An abundance viewpoint will take a different approach, and may sound like: “We can close this business now AND build a pipeline for the future.”
3. Be Authentic. Authenticity has been a pet peeve of mine since 2008, when I wrote several articles on this concept. It has become a buzz word, which can be misleading. Net: We need to show up in our truth. There is no room for fake platitudes or duplicity in our thoughts, words, or deeds as leaders and as individuals. We need to be who we are AND show up as our authentic selves. This does not mean perfection. This means as our vulnerable and imperfect selves. Period.
4. Be Adaptable. Being adaptable is all about being flexible, so that as a leader we can adjust in the moment. I call this having the ability to ‘meet people where they are’. This is about staying curious and adapting to what the situation and the individual need and require at that moment. One size does not fit all. Some ‘touchpoints’ will require direct instruction, others may require compassion, and still others require tough love. As leaders, to make the most of these incidental touchpoints, we have to be able to respond and adapt to what the moment requires.
Sure, this is not always easy. In fact, leadership can be hard! We have to be awake and receptive to what moments present themselves to us in life.
Yet, we are most certainly not in this alone. I am a believer that through being awake to each moment, and through effective engagement with others, we optimize what we can individually and collectively learn and teach. This serves everyone – from the individual contributor to the $50 billion publicly traded entity.
What do you think? Have you recently had a touchpoint upon which you learned and/or taught which was seemingly incidental in nature? How did you ‘show up’? Did the interaction bring lessons and/or benefit to both parties?