Big Idea – Be Present

Machiavelli, Niccolo

There is a little known precept in the Prince. Simply stated, “If you are going to govern, you must be present”. I always liked the message. If the farmer leaves the field for too long the weeds take the garden. It is true in farming, and leadership. It is an unstated and overlooked responsibility for executives. One must be present. As I research CEO responsibilities this year I hope to weave this into the fabric of the findings. Both critical and challenging.

Jeffrey Shields, NBOA President and CEO, links this trait to CFO responsibilities at Schools in his article Being Present Pays Off. The practical endorsement of being in the moment identified a smart pragmatic objective for all School CFOs. The position comes with a mind numbing set of responsibilities. This list, in an odd way, is dwarfed by the number of people who work for, report to, and interact with a schools financial leader.

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CFOs and leadership

On occasion CFOs earn a bit of ill will when they cut a conversation short or keep the door shut. The rationale – people will not stop talking…and yet they are unhappy when they have to wait for the work. An all too familiar catch 22.There is research that suggests people are happier when they believe the person who they are with is there – is present. Ironically, when they are happier they more easily embrace brevity – a text book win-win.

Rasmus Hougaard and Jacqueline Carter wrote a wonderful piece titled If you Aspire to Be a Great Leader, Be Present in the Harvard Business review. They detail crystal clear examples of this dynamic at play in the lives of executives. A core element of their conclusion is that mindfulness is a germane leadership trait. A trait that helps CFO’s serve schools in superior and powerful ways.

Easy Great Idea

In most communities there are groups that gather to learn more about mindfulness. Find one near you and give it a try.