Is Your Leadership In The Right Gear? Part 1

Susan S Freeman Blog

For the next two weeks, Step Up Leader Tips borrows from a recent Leading Blog post on a topic that is fundamental to effective leadership and living:  presence.  How many times do we notice that we are physically here but our mind is somewhere else?   This is a symptom of the inability to be present, without which connection with another person can’t happen.

5gears2“Wherever you are, be all there!” Jeremie Kubicek and Steve Cockram, authors of 5 Gears: How to Be Present and Productive When There Is Never Enough Time, write “Every day, millions of people are negatively impacted by the inability of a person to connect appropriately and to be present.” So much drama is created when we don’t know how to shift gears and become present.

I appreciate the simple metaphor 5 Gears offers. This helps you identify which gear you are in and finding the right gear at the right time in order to connect fully with others. The model is a relationship-driven approach. It is values-driven and helps to counteract self-absorption.

Without presence, people are not aware of what gear the other person may be in while they are speaking.

When a person’s agenda is the driving force of their life, they are going to run over people most of the time unless they learn to use their brakes and downshift.

Using the 5 Gears Model you Can:

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  1. Create awareness of which gear you are into yourself
  2. You can plan which gear you want to be in as you engage in your daily activities
  3. Create more self-awareness and awareness of others[/notification]


Like shifting gears in a car, there is a right order and a right time for each gear. Life goes more smoothly when you are shifting through the gears at the right time-and avoiding getting stuck in any one gear.

Here are 2 of the 5 Gears:

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5th Gear: Learn to Get “In the Zone”

5th Gear is focus mode that allows us to “get in the zone” without interruption. It takes discipline to shut the door, turn off your email, and let people know that you are shifting into 5th gear, but it makes it possible to cruise at a sustained speed for a period of time. The caution is that when you get stuck in 5th gear you miss out on relationships, opportunities to add value, and events in life that matter in the long term.

4th Gear: Leading in a Task World

4th Gear is the task gear that allows us to work hard while also multitasking. Most of the time we operate in 4th Gear so we need to learn to use it well. Waking up in 4th Gear is not the best strategy for your life. Our tasks can begin to control our lives. (Do you normally check your e-mail when you first wake up?) We need to learn how to shift into it and how to shift out of it. They relate the observation of Elizabeth Paul as an example. How many of us are like this:

The personal story for me was realizing that as a woman I have “work” 4th and 5th gear and “domestic” 4th and 5th gear. I thought that because I was being disciplined about putting my devices away during the golden family window of 5 to 8 P.M. I wasn’t in 4th or 5th gear, when in reality I was just putting on a different task hat. When my eyes were opened to that, I realized that I actually have little to no 3rd or 1st gear in my life at all. That was shocking.
In other words, the other gears are not just another 4th Gear task. Each Gear requires a different mindset or approach to your time. If we learn to implement the other gears in our life we will find that our everyday, multitasking 4th gear will become more productive.


The Step Up Leader approach goes one step further-actually teaching and training the practice and habits to lead in a task world. If this interests you, learn more by downloading my free audio, 5 Secrets Every Effective Leaders Should Know .” Stay tuned for the remaining gears next week!

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