Being global is more than how (or where) you are showing up in the world - it’s a state of mind as well as the energetic presence conveyed by your body. It’s how you convey genuine openness and curiosity in intercultural interactions. It’s the interest in collaborating that you express with your eyes and gestures which creates a far greater impact than any words you could use. It’s also how you demonstrate respect and appreciation for differences with your tone of voice and minute facial expressions. And more.

“Doing and being” is one of ten paradoxes that Kyoko Seki and I discuss in our May T+D article on global leadership. We describe this paradox as follows: “Global leaders must consider what they do, taking action to make things happen. At the same time, they must consider who they are, being mindful of their energetic presence.”

Paradoxes cannot usually be reconciled in an either/or manner. Most involve taking a both/and approach instead. Paradoxes tend to be accepted as part of daily life in the East, but they hold great tension for Westerners who try to reduce complexity by making simple choices.

I have been a “doing” person for most of my life. Like many leaders, I have been recognized and reinforced for all the results that come from doing. Thanks to researching and writing the article, my antennas have gone on high alert. I’m trying to understand the “being” elements that I unconsciously convey in my doing. I’m also trying to develop and use my energetic presence in a more intentional and mindful manner.

The “being” element is crucial for global leaders interacting with people who speak other languages – who must observe behavior, tone of voice and body language in order to understand the leader’s intentions. Trust can be won or lost this way.

You can control some aspects of your energetic presence, like flipping an on/off switch. However, it’s always “on” at a basic level – and it communicates continually about who you are.

In my journey to learn more about “being,” I discovered a book called Personal Leadership written by Barbara Schaetti, Sheila Ramsey, and Gordon Watanabe. They write about two principles (mindfulness and creativity) plus six practices (attending to judgment, attending to emotion, attending to physical sensation, cultivating stillness, engaging ambiguity, and aligning with vision) which enable people to channel various being aspects to figure out the best action to take, especially in intercultural encounters. Please check it out and let me know what you think!

Meanwhile, what do you see as some of the “being” challenges for yourself or other people at work?