Whether you call it leadership presence, executive presence, professional presence or boardroom presence, what you’re talking about is how others perceive and accept you. But the process of developing a leadership presence starts long before you actually take a leadership position. In order for others to see you as a leader, you must first see yourself as a leader.
Keep in mind that a leadership presence focuses on connecting and engaging with others authentically. Of course, you may feel unsure at times and doubt yourself. Everyone does. The authenticity comes from your motivation to bring something positive, inspiring, and valuable to your organization, team, or clients. When you take the focus off of yourself solely, you’ll be more at ease, which in turn puts others at ease and makes them more receptive to your leadership.
What are the most important steps for developing your leadership presence? As you go through the following list, you’ll see that each skill will add to your self-confidence initially, which translates into a greater leadership presence for all to see.
Physical presentation. The quality of your voice, your vocabulary, and the athletic fitness of your body are important aspects of developing your leadership presence. The more you train in each of these areas, the more control you’ll gain in all aspects of life.
Dress and grooming. Even if you work from home, dress the part. First impressions do matter. Hire a stylist, so you’re not wasting money on clothes that don’t fit the image you want to portray. You’re worth it!
Being well-read. When you’re interested in a lot of different topics, within your area of expertise and beyond, you’ll be able to engage with anyone you meet. Stay up with current events and watch the trends. That will give you a cutting-edge advantage.
Charismatic personality. With the right training, you can change any inherent trait or quality, so don’t settle by saying, “This is how I was born. I can’t help it.” You can master emotional competencies that leaders need, i.e., composure, courage, tenacity, or optimism.
Humility and vulnerability. These are must-have qualities, because people want to work with someone they can relate to. Being vulnerable is a sign of strength and is the quickest pathway to trust. As a caveat – leaders acquire a great amount of power, and it can be tempting to misuse it. If your focus is on helping others to shine, and you’re willing to show your humanity, then people will willingly follow you.
Relationship-building communication. Learn to speak in a way that makes people want to listen. The ability to deliver a clear, convincing and appealing message has extreme value. You can take voice lessons and presentation training to improve your voice quality. Not to be overlooked – active listening is a critical element to communication. Ask questions and listen attentively to understand and learn. Lean forward. Let people sense your interest in them as a person.
Deliver outcomes. As a leader, you are in charge and you have to make sure the right things happen at the right time. It takes strong decision-making skills, plus flexibility and energy to get others to deliver. You’ll need to give helpful and detailed feedback so your team knows what is expected of them.
What challenges you the most in your quest for a leadership presence? Please come over to my Facebook page and share your thoughts. Also, in September, my colleague Louise Santiago and I are hosting “Women, Wisdom & Presence – Evolving our presence in the world” in Mindo, Ecuador. Together, we’ll explore how to recognize, name, and support the leader within. Please feel free to contact me with any questions.