When it comes to “doing the right thing” – a theme I promote over and over and over again, I’m always encouraging people to go back to fundamentals — fundamentals our parents and grandparents held near and dear, like manners. In order to have manners, we need to be respectful of others, of the situation, and of protocol. We need to bring those fundamentals with us everywhere we go — including into the Boardroom.
This week’s practice is on smartphones and making a conscious decision of when your device should be placed on standby.
At the QuickBook Connects conference in San Jose, CA, last week, headlining speakers Martha Stewart and Arianna Huffington told their audience to leverage technologies, but they also gave advice on when to shut things down. “Chill out a bit, Huffington, Stewart tell entrepreneurs,” was one of the headlines that described the session. Arianna Huffington urged the audience to “pick a time at the end of the day when you turn off all your devices and gently escort them out of your bedroom.”
Bedrooms, certainly, but Boardrooms, too. I urge you, leaders and Boards, to set boundaries and know when it’s time to leave your device alone.
Regardless of our fast-paced lives and the demands of the digital revolution and social media, we are human beings who need to be fully present with each other in order to connect. Having our phones on, tweeting, checking emails, replying to emails while attending important meetings doesn’t just appear to be distracting, it is. That’s because hearing is not listening. And when you don’t hear, you can’t make informed decisions.
I know, you feel you need to be connected 24/7. But you don’t. For this week’s practice, I invite you to consider prioritizing where you can’t and shouldn’t be using your mobile device. Such as:
- Discussing strategy – This requires us to be fully engaged. We can’t be fully engaged while scrolling through emails, reading tweets or texts. Seriously.
- Milestones – Exchanging ideas on critical milestones and gathering the insights from the directors gathered around the table requires our full attention in order to be effective. We need to be here, in the now, and fully present. Totally.
Whenever I lead any of my sessions, I always suggest that people leave their smartphones alone except for family emergencies. New participants and new clients are usually reluctant at first, stunned that I have even made this request. After the session, they’re surprised that my request wasn’t just successful, but it was a relief for everyone present because we accomplish so much.
The results? Amazing connectivity, creativity, clarity, respect for the talent pool in the room and everyone is inspired by being 100% present to the others. It is contagious. When we are done, unanimously everyone agrees that we took the meeting to an entirely higher level of quality and incomparable effectiveness.
I think that phones or mobile devices should not be present during any Board or committee meeting. We are not around the table to hear, but to intentionally listen, engage, deliberate and make decisions.
Do the right thing: Bring manners into your consciousness and you will intuitively know when the smartphone shouldn’t be a guest at the table or in the room, Boardroom or bedroom.
Lead from your core: Don’t be afraid to value and fully respect the human potential with you at the table — or across the desk. Do you care to be present and be a great listener when strategizing with others? Do you want people to really listen to you? Start by being the change, and be present to listen to others.
Leave your phone in your pocket, turn off the sound or turn it off altogether.