Leaders SHOW UP

Leaders show up.


All too often a leader decides to “opt out” when it comes time to show up for training and development. Brene Brown tells the story of a female CEO at a LARGE company who threw a fit when she learned that Brown was invited to keynote a company event where she would talk about…women and failing. Brene overheard this meltdown and courageously introduced herself. She asked, “Are you staying to hear my keynote?” to which the CEO replied, “I wasn’t planning on it.” 

(I won’t tell the rest of the story but encourage you to seek out the talk on YouTube. Simply search Daring Greatly to Unlock Your Creativity and enjoy.)

Her story serves a purpose, one that I see far too often. Leaders will “pay the invoice” for the speaker, keynote, or facilitator but won’t show up and participate. Why? There is a leadership mindset that is prevalent—one defined by the holy trinity of leadership hubris:  

1. I am too important to attend an event like this

2. I don’t need this training, they do

3. I don’t have time

At the same time, I hear: “Why is my boss not here?” “Wow could our leadership use this class!” or “This is a waste of time. If my manager/boss/leader doesn’t hear this same message, nothing changes.” 

These observations lend themselves to a culture of unengaged team members. If their leadership doesn't care, why should they? It is these experiences that have cultivated ONE of my leadership philosophies:







On occasion, I am pleasantly surprised by a leader who does show up.

I worked with a group from a large global company recently. The group was assembled from around the world—The United States, South Africa, The UK, and Australia to spend the day taking their speaking skills to the next level. Their leader, Sam, joined us for the day and was engaged for the entire class (no laptop, no checking his phone, no stepping out every ten minutes for important leader stuff).

As a part of the training, participants received two coaching calls and one presentation submission —a chance to work one-on-one to address their specific needs. 

I was pleased to see Sam sign up for his coaching calls. 

This is what it looks like for a leader to show up. 

If you want to be the kind of “show up” leader that people want and need, try these three things and see how the dynamics of your relationships start to change.

1. Participate in a training class in your organization. Participate. Ask questions. Stay curious. Resist the urge to present yourself as the expert and embrace the chance to be the learner.

2. Get social. Take the time to know your people by showing up at social events. But don’t talk about yourself for goodness sakes! Ask questions and listen. Just listen. Show interest and stay curious. Make it about them, not you.

3. Think one-on-one. Unlike a classroom setting or a social event, connecting person-to-person is another way you can show up. What better way to communicate you care and are committed to each person on your team?

How do you demonstrate “show up” leadership? I collect examples and stories about the best of leadership. Share them at www.bravocc.com and opt in for other Bravo cc “good stuff” about leadership and communication!

Libby Spears, educate liberate and entertain