Leadership Distinction #23: Presence

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Leadership Distinction #23: Presence

A Leader’s Presence is bolstered by quiet. Who knew?

There’s a whole lot being said and written these days about “leadership presence”. I interpret this as our collective attempt to get our minds around something that actually doesn’t have a lot to do with our minds or the thoughts we generate, but rather with how we show up. And how we show care when we do. 

My suspicion is that the topic is rich these days because people are feeling a personal power shortage, and are worried that this dimension of their leader lives may be their Achilles heel. To solve whether it is or isn’t I suggest we dig into the phrase and examine what each of the words in “leadership presence” mean. Let’s start with presence. 

Presence is the state of being present, in relation to others. You are always present no matter whether you are alone or with others. But presence is a relevant distinction about you only when you are with others. And so, recognition by others is central to your presence. 

Now let’s take the word: leadership. Leadership is the state or the activity of a person who seeks to gain followers or to keep them. For a person who has already chosen to follow you, or a person who is considering whether to follow you, what do you suppose they are looking for, from you, from your presence?

For the former it’s to find evidence that sustains the belief that led them to choose you in the first place. For the latter it’s to find reasons to choose you; this choice is an action that comes after believing that you credibly represent a future that appeals to them. Will you attain for them what they seek? And how will you know when you have? 

I have a suggestion: turn down your transmitter — the active transmission of your thoughts. This will afford you instead the time to ask and to listen – to turn up your receiver. Many followers are indeed looking for this demonstration of genuine care from you — from your leadership presence.

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