Do You Have Leadership Presence and How Can You Get It?
Leadership presence is the ability to do two things very well. The first is to demonstrate value, whether to one person or to hundreds of thousands of people, in an authentic way. The second is to connect well with your stakeholders. It means being authentic, comfortable in your skin, and effectively communicating your message while connecting with those around you. That’s leadership presence.
Present in management research circles exist common myths surrounding the concept of leadership presence:
The first is the myth of “you are who you are.” Interpreted: people who have presence are those who are naturally born with it. Truth be told, having leadership presence is essentially about being adaptable and adapting your style to the current situation. The second myth is the idea that leadership presence has but one look. People ultimately mirror their role model leaders and fake it rather than being authentic.
The last myth is that once you have leadership presence, you don’t need to do anything else, that there’s only one way of being. While you may have a presence that works well in one situation or in one role, as you move on to other roles you need to adapt your presence to that situation. What makes you successful in one situation is not necessarily what will make you successful in another.
To manifest leadership presence, you need to be aware of your audience, at all times. To be most effective, you must tailor your approach and communication style to appeal to your particular audience. What works in front of your peers would not work in front of a jury or group of corporate shareholders. The most important thing is to be aware of your audience needs.
When you speak, you want others to listen, yes? Whether it's a bet-the-company scenario or one in a long stream of communications (discussing a client matter with a colleague), effectively making your point is likely your objective each time you speak.
How you present yourself, how you communicate, how you listen, how you connect, and how you respond to feedback helps creates leadership presence. Envision your perfect example of a leader (i.e. Ed Rendell, Hilary or Bill Clinton, Jeff Bezos, or John F. Kennedy). Regardless of your politics, each possesses an indefinable "something" that makes magic as soon as he or she steps onto a stage. Leadership presence is the business version of stage presence.
Below are three essential strategies for discovering your leadership presence.
1. Slow down. By using your breath to slow down your thoughts, you will be much more available to the present moment.
This is often the most important step toward developing an effective leadership presence. In our culture of immediacy, everything goes so quickly. Each and every day, we are besieged by urgent demands on our time so that we race from one activity to another, attempting to multitask at every moment. This state of continuous urgency and information overload is amplified by the racing thoughts accompanying the stress and anxiety that arise when we encounter uncomfortable leadership situations.