How To Create Your Presence As A Leader

Have you ever wondered how some people can almost instantly command your attention when they walk into a room to give a speech? It is not simply because they are a celebrity or a known figure. It is because they possess a leadership presence. Take these couple of videos below for example.

University of Texas at Austin 2014 Commencement Address – Admiral William H. McRaven
2015 World Champion: ‘The Power of Words’ Mohammed Qahtani, Toastmasters International

So, what is Leadership Presence?

“Presence is the ability to connect authentically with the thoughts and feelings of others” (Halpern and Lubar, 2003)

Rightly said, and leadership presence builds on top of that. Leadership presence is the ability to take command of a room, assume a leadership role among the audience and express your thoughts and opinion with confidence. It is a quality that we ascribe to people who can connect with us and hold our attention.

But, is it something that can be developed? In one of my recent MBA classes, a point was made that the ability to connect with people, which is the underlying factor in Leadership Presence, is something that either comes naturally to a person or not, and that the person without this skill, experiences an uphill battle if they ever wish to create Leadership Presence.

So, is that true?

While it is an uphill battle, Leadership Presence is a skill after all. Which means that anyone can learn, develop and improve on it. It has become a vital skills for leaders to develop and project and improve their ability to connect with any audience and ensure that the audience hear and see the conviction which the leaders feel about their message. And while the journey to develop presence might be easier for some than for others, it is something that virtually anyone can have.

How do you develop Leadership Presence?

Be authentic

When you are authentic, your audience feels safe. Be that an audience in 10s or 1000s, authenticity will help create trust and rapport which will not only make people (or employees or team members) feel comfortable, but also psychologically safe in that environment, keeping them out of any danger such that they are able to follow your lead.

Have a confident body language

In the above two videos, you’ll notice a very confident body language exhibited by both speakers. Both the speakers are facing their audience, taking up the right amount of space – neither too much nor too little and using purposeful gestures to connect the movements to their words. Body language is important. It makes you feel confident and confident people can attract followers by being self-motivated, assured and willing to take risks.

Think like a leader

To achieve a leader’s presence, you must have leader’s mindset which means to think like a leader every time you communicate. It begins with having a vision, a conviction about your vision and moving from information to inspiration. Thinking like a leader is not something one can do overnight. It is something one should do every day by seizing and creating informal opportunities to inspire your audience.

Works Cited

Halpern, Belle Linda and Kathy Lubar. Leadership Presence: Dramatic Techniques to Reach Out, Motivate and Inspire. New York: Gotham Books, 2003. Print.

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