In our recent blog post: INCREASING VIRTUAL TEAM ENGAGEMENT WITH PLAY, we explored the first element essential for creating a human-centric culture of effective collaboration: Play. The remaining dynamics of Presence, Vulnerability, and Wellness are equally important to practice within yourself—and to your teams—to create engagement and innovation, especially in the virtual world. Let’s take a quick and close look at each.
We define presence as fully experiencing the moment you are in, as it is. Presence creates space for what needs to show up or be addressed in the here and now. When we’re present it enhances our ability to play, listen with intention, think creatively, feel gratitude and appreciation for our life, stay open to new learning and experiences, and make better decisions. Presence, or mindfulness, is also linked to happiness.
A study by Harvard researcher Matt Killingsworth set out to prove just that. Using a prompt from a smartphone app, study participants were asked to rate their current happiness level, what activity they were involved in when the call came, and whether or not their mind was wandering from the activity. The study results showed that people were less happy when their mind was wandering from their activity – no matter what the activity was! That means we’re more likely to be happy vacuuming if we’re focusing on our vacuuming, rather than thinking about our dream vacation to Bora Bora. That’s powerful stuff!
Bringing this back to our teams and workplace, this new virtual workplace has leveled up the distraction game. We are being pulled in so many directions and being present is not typically on the do-to list. But since research shows that being present through mindfulness can significantly improve our overall mood, reduce perceived stress, tension, confusion, depression, and make us less tired, we think it’s about time to add it to the agenda. You might try this for yourself by taking an intentional deep breath before starting a meeting or inviting the entire group to take a few deep breaths before starting a brainstorming activity! We’ve even led short, guided meditations to get the group off the hamster wheel and into the present moment.
Presence is a building block to strengthen Vulnerability. Practicing Vulnerability can be similar to what we’re told on an airplane during the safety review: put on your safety mask before helping others. In other words, it’s something we need to internalize first, to help better lead the way for others. But it’s not easy.
As Brené Brown defines it, Vulnerability is “uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure.” Showing up vulnerably is an act of courage. This can be a tough one in the workplace because it feels uncomfortable and can make us feel exposed. However, we’re not advocating for a complete disclosure of all personal details, worries, and fears to fellow workers. That would be neither appropriate as a leader, nor would it actually lead to increased vulnerability within your teams. The goal is to first lead by cultivating play and being present and in the moment, which allows vulnerability to happen naturally and comfortably.
As a leader, vulnerability begets vulnerability. The more open you are with your teams, the more open they will be with you. Within teams, this can take the shape of asking for help, providing or asking for feedback, setting boundaries, accepting responsibility, letting go of notions of perfection, recognizing others, apologizing when it’s warranted, or clarifying goals and expectations. When teams build a culture of vulnerability and trust, individuals can show up authentically, which gives them the capacity to more easily advocate for themselves and others. Increased work focus and productivity then become the natural by-product!
An important way to leverage that newfound advocacy is through cultivating Wellness. Wellness is an incredibly important topic we’re hearing about a lot these days. When it comes to taking care of ourselves, our people, and our teams, it’s crucial that we consider the impact that personal wellness management has on our ability to contribute in a meaningful way.
There are four components of energy that make up who we are: Mind, Body, Emotion, and Spirit. Our Minds are energized when we are present and able to express ourselves creatively. Energy in our Body is fueled by sleep, nutrition, movement, and hydration. Our Emotions color our experiences and make our lives dynamic. And, the human Spirit is energized when it is aligned in purpose and open to vulnerability and connection. By measuring our own energy levels, we can get an inside scoop into the areas that may be contributing to a lack of energy. Better yet, we can detect an energy management crisis before it hits and take action towards Wellness that is targeted at the source.
Try an assessment like the one in our resource toolkit for yourself, or as a team activity, and measure energy levels. Brainstorm ways to increase or maintain Wellness in the different energy categories.
PULLING IT ALL TOGETHER
Play, Presence, Vulnerability, and Wellness: the four elements to cultivate a human-centric culture in our virtual workplace world. When we explain these four elements to the leaders we coach, we’ll ask them to imagine themselves jump roping as a child—remembering how they had to first watch the jump rope and track the right time and place to jump in. This jump rope entry point is Play. Then, you move into Presence, Vulnerability, and Wellness, which feeds back into play and around it goes. If you notice that your team already Plays well together, maybe your entry point is Presence, or Vulnerability, or Wellness.
We believe incorporating these elements into your organization will increase your connection, increase creative problem solving, and improve the resiliency of your teams. But don’t take our word for it! Jump in and start today. Begin with an icebreaker at your first team meeting. Practice presence in your next 1:1 by breathing deeply and reminding yourself to stay in the here and now. Experiment with vulnerability by setting a boundary that you’ve been nervous about or asking for or giving feedback. And think about how to implement your action plan for increasing your energy levels to maintain wellness.
Download our resource toolkit that digs deeper into Presence, Vulnerability, and Wellness, and reach out if you’re interested in learning more about building human-centric teams. We’re here to help you and your teams succeed!
Ciara Claraty often encourages her teams to sit in the fire of change. For Ciara, that means being present in ambiguity and discomfort, willing to change, and able to commit. For the teams she leads, it’s an approach and mindset that translate to an ability to make major changes for the better.
A gifted management coach and organizational change agent, Ciara excels at helping executives cultivate learning cultures, gain alignment, and discover their authentic leadership style. Her previous experience includes roles at Polycom, where she was instrumental in designing and implementing change management, training, and career development, diversity and inclusion, and process improvement strategies. Ciara holds a master’s degree in organizational development and leadership from LIOS Graduate College of Saybrook University and a bachelor's degree in general studies from Northwest University.
Shealyn Nosal’s passion for change stems from the old adage, “The only constant in life is CHANGE,” something that she reminds herself daily during her mindfulness practices. She brings the same philosophy when working with leaders and teams, encouraging authentic leadership through vulnerability and humility, communicating openly, and taking responsibility for the energy that each of us brings to a space.
Her experience spans the tech, retail, automotive, marketing, and healthcare industries – managing organizational change efforts, coaching teams and leaders through ambiguous waters, and streamlining processes using Lean Six Sigma principles. Shealyn has bachelor’s degrees in political science and international studies from the University of Michigan.