“The most dangerous leadership myth is that leaders are born—that there is a genetic factor to leadership. That’s nonsense; in fact, the opposite is true. Leaders are made rather than born.”
Taking a look at the manner in which a pioneer in the field of leadership studies describes, individual skills are set aside to enable you to improve your leadership capabilities. One of the qualities you have to learn as part of your overall development is; Leadership Presence
Leadership presence is a term that does not have a precise definition. However, possessing this quality goes a long way to determining how you can command your audience, whether it’s in the boardroom, speaking engagement, factory floor, or simply walking into a room. Having the ability to engage and realistically connect with others, be positive and inspiring at the same time can be of great value for leaders.
In essence, leadership presence signifies the ability to be fully confident and comfortable irrespective of where you find yourself and is a quality that extends to the people around you, making them feel comfortable and relaxed so that they can be receptive to what you have to say.
Although some people can be friendly and socially confident, it doesn’t automatically make them a great leader. Instead, being a leader entails the combination of different qualities. Learned and inherent with an executive presence everyone sees.
One of the best definitions of leadership presence I have been able to come across is from Gavin Dagley, researcher, psychologist and executive coach: “A person with executive or leadership presence is someone who, by virtue of the effect he or she has on an audience, exerts influence beyond that conferred by formal authority.”
Dagley records in his research that effective leadership can cause people to act, but effective leadership presence can cause people to listen.
Now the question is this, what are the qualities that make up Leadership Presence?
- Body Language
According to Albert Mehrabian, a psychology professor at UCLA, he says that we are perceived in three ways:
- 55 percent visually (body language)
- 38 percent vocally (tone of voice)
- 7 percent verbally (spoken words)
The expression of physical comfort-ability goes a long way in the radiation of the true presence. In a situation where you happen to be fidgeting and not in control of your body, there is a tendency that it may not pass the explicit message you want to deliver. Being able to keep your posture straight when standing or sitting may speak volumes. Physical fitness can help in giving you control over your body. Resistance and aerobic training contribute to improving your stamina and posture including your confidence.
Just as body language, although superficial appearance can determine the manner in which people perceive you on to a large extent because humans are visual beings. Right or wrong, a majority of the time our initial judgment is based on what we see, therefore being well groomed and dressed can be of immense importance. If that means hiring a stylist, it may be well worth the investment.
It is no doubt that one’s behavior is often based on how confident they are. Keeping your calm and composure with the exhibition of self-control will exude the confidence people are attracted to. The demeanor of a leader can be demonstrated in many ways, including dignity, charisma, great personality and a good sense of authority. All these are traits that can be improved with the right training.
- Intellect and Expertise
When people around you are impressed as a result of your understanding and knowledge, the chances are, they will be more likely to give an ear to your message. It is also important for you to broaden the scope of your knowledge and not just within your area of expertise alone. Being able to have certain conversations about different subjects is a likable quality; this creates an opportunity for you to be able to engage with more people. Some of the finest methods for you to accomplish this could be by learning, reading, taking up hobbies and staying on top of recent events.
After all, you have been physically assessed, the words you speak will be analyzed to determine whether you are worth listening to or not. It is fine to have high intellect, but it is also important to talk in a manner that will make people want to listen.
In the research carried out by Dagely, being able to construct messages in a clear, appealing and convincing fashion as well as being eloquent with compelling narrative can be of inestimable importance. Furthermore, voice clarity and quality, including the ability to make yourself easily heard can also make an impact. Consider taking voice lessons and engaging in presentation training to make your voice worth listening to.
According to Dagely’s research, this received the largest response. The knack to be courageous, genuine, tenacious, trustworthy, and tough-minded, including having a positive and optimistic outlook, can go a long way to influence a person’s leadership presence. These qualities can be developed through lifelong experiences but can be mastered if developed early.
- Interpersonal Behavior Patterns
The act of building a good relationship with people by being warm and practical may be of great help to leaders. Everyone likes to work with people they can relate to. Whether it is a client or an employee, when one is unable to establish the right connection, people may find it difficult to make a deal or work with such a person.
- Interpersonal Skills
This type of skill can be described as the eagerness to engage, apparent sincerity, quiet wit, charm, seductiveness, and friendliness. This might be quite related to interpersonal behavior patterns; nonetheless, interpersonal skill does not have to do with the building of relationships but is based on engaging people in different settings. According to Dagely, The central interpersonal skill circles around active listening.
- Ability to Deliver Outcomes
Some of the features that Characterize assured results consist of strong decision-making capabilities, flexibility, and the drive to make others perform. These are liable qualities for sustainable leadership presence.
- Correct Use of Power
Exercising power without integrity or as a means to enforce compliance might result in having a bad presence. It is therefore important for leaders to cogitate on using their power wisely, coupled with all the positive traits necessary for having leadership presence for everyone to stand behind it.
- Status and Reputation
This can sometimes be used in the assessment of a leader’s presence from the onset, but it can be unsustainable. The presence a person was able to command as a result of their prior attainment can only be as good as their current actions and in-actions in their new position.
Several measurable qualities help to define leadership presence. This obviously is not as easy as some might think it to be. Every new leadership position comes with its challenges. The merry-go-round that C-Suite executives jump in and out of may be proof that being a CEO doesn’t automatically mean you can do the job.
A person who is courageous, trustworthy, genuine, tenacious, tough-minded, having an optimistic and positive outlook, can have a significant leadership presence.
When you continue in the development of your leadership presence with positive qualities in your personal and professional life, this can be sure to prepare you in confidently taking up that leadership role when the time finally arrives.
I will be providing content for the development of an online leadership presence course. Will be started mid-next month. I’m excited because I love that sort of stuff. Got to get that alpha male stance along with the Anglo-saxon language down. But going through through the minutia, I’m pretty sure I’ll be forced to remember a few of those basic basics.
Very thought provoking Article. I will not debate the born leader verse the made leadership. I will say you nailed the attributed that a leader should demonstrate. Thank you Andreas. I will gladly share this with my team
Excellent article, Andreas! I’ve always believed that leaders are made, not born, which is why I’m baffled that we spend so little effort to create leaders in our businesses. I especially like your point about communications – strong and frequent messages will help people feel secure and positive about a good leader’s objectives.
Thanks Carol. In almost every employee survey communication is cited as one of the major issues.
I like your points on leadership presence. I feel that a leader must demonstrate things people can mimic and emulate. That includes behaviors, goals, body language and whatever.
Leaders are their to lead the charge. Leaders are there to build everyone where together they all lead the charge. Think of a movie you may have seen about an army charging on the battle field. Do you see one lone guy way out in front running? Or do you see a cohesive unit of people in perfect sync running towards the same objective?
Real leadership is the same way.
Cohesive teams get a lot more done and are more effective.
All very good points, Andreas. As you also note, getting a job and keeping it are two totally different issues.
I think that of the items you list the one I see most often violated today is that of appearance. Too many “leaders” and “wannabes,” think that dress code is stodgy and not needed. I never liked casual Fridays and didn’t accept my executives dressing like they had just come from the gym or ball field.
I am military guy so appearance and dress code are very important to me. Thanks for adding to the conversation
I am so impressed with such a candid article Andreas!
“A person who is courageous, trustworthy, genuine, tenacious, tough-minded, having an optimistic and positive outlook, can have a significant leadership presence” (Jones, 2017). What further strengthens those traits are exactly what you described.
A solid sense of integrity is quite powerful. How we ‘show up’ matters. A lot. A whole lot~
Thanks for adding to conversation Dr. Jennifer. You absolutely correct Integrity is quite powerful and cannot be overstated.
The foundation of Leadership is trust – John Maxwell