One of the greatest challenges we have as human beings and as leaders is to be emotionally connected with others- our team, our family, our friends- yet avoid becoming a part of the story of someone else's success or drama of their challenges. A strong leader will allow a teammate or colleague to enjoy and flourish in his or her success without detracting from the moment or taking over the spotlight. Similarly, a strong leader will remain emotionally connected and engaged with someone facing difficulty without taking on those emotions and becoming part of the drama as well.

This leadership skill, known as Detached Involvement, requires a leader to be aware of his/her own emotions at all times and how they are changing. At its best, a leader practicing detached involvement is engaged in Level 3 Listening. Level 1 listening often results in being drawn into the drama because the listener is relating his/her own emotional experience to what's being said. Just because someone else is feeling angry, and understandably so, does not mean that you too should feel angry.

The key to successful detached involvement is to remain emotionally connected while being separate. For many of us, we've been taught from a young age that in order to be emotionally connected to someone else, we need to be feeling the same emotions. And so we search for similar experiences we've had to conjure up the emotions we perceive the other to be experiencing. However, when you start to think about this, it really is not a genuine connection. In that moment you are creating a parallel experience, and so you are not really present, and often your efforts fall short.  

By working to become increasing aware of your emotions at any moment and how they are influenced by your experiences through out the day, you take a step toward practicing detached involvement. Own your feeling, recognize when your emotions are being influenced, accept that and let it go. This takes practice and vigilance and with time and practice you can become a master.

What challenges have you face when in a situation that calls for detached involvement?