In the intricate dance of leadership, our journey continues to unfold with a closer look at the first “M” in our 6 M leadership framework: Managing Yourself. As we delve into this dimension, we encounter a critical facet – Leadership Presence. Remember, Rule 1 stated that it’s all about you? Now, let’s explore how your presence can be a catalyst for inspiring confidence and propelling your leadership journey forward.

DECODING LEADERSHIP PRESENCE:

Presence, often elusive yet unmistakable, is the intangible quality that sets great leaders apart. It’s not just about generic leadership qualities; it’s about inspiring confidence across various dimensions. In its essence, presence is the amalgamation of vision, charisma, and intelligence, but what does that means in terms of skills and actions. How can you embody this elusive quality?

THE TRIAD OF PRESENCE:

There are 3 key elements to creating Leadership Presence and they are your way of BEING, your SPEAKING and your APPEARANCE.
1. Your Beingness: 
  • Your Way of BEING: How you act, the DIGNITY of your being, or DemeanorDignity conveys a sense of poise, composed behavior, and a commanding yet authentic demeanor, all of which contribute to a strong executive presence. It emphasizes a seriousness and a certain level of formality that often accompanies a leader with gravitas. Your BEINGNESS could be being charismatic, being powerful, being smart etc. When you choose a way of being, automatically you have a sense of that way of being. If I say powerful and you take on BEING powerful, notice how your posture changes, how your voice will change, deeper into the chest, not so high in the throat, there are certain actions that a powerful person would take, example speaking up, making decisions, leading the charge, identifying what needs to be done and doing it without being a victim. So, consciously decide YOUR way of being, that is in alignment with the culture you are in, or the business you are leading and then take actions in alignment with that, adjust posture, voice etc to fit in with that way of BEING
  • Authenticity and Self-Awareness: Presence begins with your authentic self. Authenticity breeds trust, and self-awareness allows you to navigate challenges with a clear understanding of your strengths and areas for growth.
  • Emotional Intelligence: Leaders with a strong presence exhibit emotional intelligence, navigating interpersonal dynamics with empathy and astuteness.
  • Confidence in difficult situations: Handling it all with grace and ease, clearly showing the path forward.
  • Acting decisively: Making decisions wisely but in a timely and effective manner, sharing that information openly transparently, often and early.
  • Showing integrity: Doing what you said you would by when you said you would, in the fashion you know it should be done. Having your words and actions align with your vision and strategies. That is a life of high integrity.
  • Burnishing reputation: You are a role model, what you think, what you say and the actions you take will either be mimicked and admired, or will be gossiped about and shot down in flames. Your reputation matters.
  • Projecting vision: Identifying a vision, reinforcing that vision and making sure all work you and others do is in alignment to that vision. Your actions should also line up with that vision.
2. Your Speaking:
  • Vision Communication: A leader’s ability to articulate a compelling vision is pivotal.
  • Active Listening: Presence is not just about speaking; it’s equally about listening. Demonstrate active listening to make your team feel heard and valued.
  • Clear Tailored Communication: Work on refining your communication skills by being clear, concise, and compelling. Tailor your message to resonate with different audiences, fostering understanding and alignment.
  • Speaking Ability & Command: Ability to speak in public is so critical, you have to be able lead a group and “hold space” for that group, commanding that room and keeping them on task. You have to be able to read the room, allowing them to talk when needed, to relax and have fun at other times, but to also rein them in to focus, and when needed, maintain the time and agenda, where there is some room, allow that to float if more discussion is needed.
  • Non Verbal Skills;Your facial expressions, your body in relationship to the room, or items in the room such as a chair, your energy, or beingness, the pitch or speed of your voice, the modulation of your voice are all non verbal communication skills that you need to work on enhancing. Your voice and body are tools for communication, not just the words you speak. Don’t speak in a continual, professional monotone, switch it out, be playful at appropriate times, speed up, slow down, speak in a deeper or higher voice. These things matter so learn to control these.
3. Your Appearance:
  • Professionalism: Your appearance is the initial visual cue that sets the tone for your leadership presence. Dress professionally, aligning with the expectations of your organizational culture.
  • Confidence in Body Language: Project confidence through your body language. Maintain eye contact, stand tall, and use gestures purposefully. Your physical demeanor contributes significantly to the perception of your leadership presence.
  • Styling and grooming: How you look counts; mainly because people make decisions about you in that first 5 minutes, and that then acts as a filter through which your communication skills and gravitas can be perceived as either worth listening to, or something to avoid. The way your dress, if it is appropriate for the culture, your grooming, hair, smell, all of it matters because of the instantaneous biases that can be created as a result. Being conscious of this, regardless of your personal style, is important when you are working in an organisation, or in your own business. Yes, you can express your style, but be conscious of what is appropriate considering culture or branding.

ELEVATING YOUR PRESENCE:

So, now that you are aware of the 3 elements, what can you do to elevate your Presence? There is a lot you can do to elevate the 3 elements of presence, I have listed some options for actions you can consider taking, below.
1. Cultivate Your Beingness:
  • Engage in continuous self-reflection to enhance authenticity.
  • Prioritize emotional intelligence development through self-awareness exercises.
  • Identifying your values and living a life aligned with them
  • Build trust by aligning your actions with your values.
  • Taking stretch opportunities when available.
  • Building skills in strategy, team vision, culture, market orientation, finance so you can lead workshops and conversations.
  • Gaining a sponsor, coach or a mentor.
  • Working upstream with other business owners, senators, senior leaders, utilising data to support your views.
  • Going deep into a niche to build specialised skills, increasing expertise.
  • Seeking feedback to get objectivity for further self awareness.
  • Building business & technology acumen.
  • Being calm in stressful situations, not losing your cool.
2. Polish Your Speaking Skills:
  • Enroll in public speaking courses or workshops to refine your communication such as Toastmasters..
  • Record yourself and seek constructive feedback and actively work on improving your verbal articulation.
  • Tailor your messaging to resonate with diverse audiences.
  • Digital presence in LinkedIN, social media, posting articles, replying to things.
  • Board service presentations and discussions.
  • Public speaking engagements.
  • Blogging or writing.
  • Improvisation training.
  • High-profile public speaking events such as TED talks.
  • Agendas; a simple but powerful tool often forgotten, especially in workshop and meeting invites.
  • Executive summaries and other regular communication out to team and up to senior leaders.
  • Speaking to and sharing your vision all the time.
  • Sharing and explaining data & results.
  • Storytelling.
  • Voice, tone, pitch.
  • Eye contact
  • Silence utilising 15 seconds of silence after a question
  • Active listening skills
3. Refine Your Appearance:
  • Understand and embrace the dress code within your organizational culture.
  • Invest in professional attire that aligns with your role and industry expectations.
  • Practice confident body language through role-playing or visualization exercises.
  • Energy & attitude routines.
  • Professional style & grooming that is appropriate for that culture or your brand style.
  • Tailored clothing, fashionable clothing, etc depending on culture or brand.
  • Posture and body language, in relationship to environment and objects.
  • Sleep, making sure you get it so you can look and be your best.
  • Clean, neat office space.
  • Etiquette.

CONCLUSION: THE POWER OF YOUR PRESENCE

In the complex landscape of leadership, your presence is the silent force shaping perceptions and opening doors to opportunities. By honing your beingness, refining your speaking, and embodying a polished appearance, you not only inspire confidence but also position yourself as a leader capable of achieving greatness. Presence, in its multifaceted glory, is your passport to unlocking the vast potential that leadership offers. As you master these three key elements, watch how your presence becomes a beacon, guiding you toward transformative leadership.
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