You’ve seen the magnetizing pull some leaders have on the people around them. You want that for yourself, and in some cases, you’ve even been told it’s needed to be successful.
“When you walk in the room,” your boss or mentor tells you, “You need to present a more senior profile and own the room.”
In an effort to gain this level of presence, you’ve read your share of books, implemented the ideas, altered the clothes you wear, secured material successes, titles, accolades, and even use superbly smart words to show that you’ve got what it takes.
Still, you don’t have the kind of allure you’ve been told you need to progress. What gives?
The problem is in understanding there are two foundational ways in which to achieve leadership presence. In many cases it’s entirely too easy to confuse them.
The first is through the use of dominance and control to manipulate others into throwing themselves at your feet. You’ve experienced those leaders who instigate fear the moment they walk into a room. People gravitate toward them because they think, “They must know something I don’t know and/or have something I need to survive.”
Think Donald Trump.
The second is through the use of unshakable belief in yourself, your purpose, and your vision. You’ve experienced those leaders whose presence leaves you feeling seen, heard, inspired and filled with hope. Some have big titles and media exposure (think Warren Buffet), while others are quietly making their dent in the universe.
I refer to the first type of presence as fear-based, and the second as purpose-based. My guess is that the true essence of what you’re striving to elicit when you walk into a room is a magnetic pull based on clarity of purpose.
You want your presence to bring forth their desire to make a greater impact in the company and the community. You want them to be attracted to you based on the possibility and hope they see through your presence. You want to be fully present with them, as they share their hopes, dreams, and aspirations.
Real presence comes when you know, deep inside yourself, that you are enough, and have plenty to share with others. When you believe in yourself, your vision, and trust others to find their own way, they will be drawn to the light that radiates from you.
To strengthen your purpose-based presence, consider asking yourself the following five questions:
- What am I striving to achieve through my work?
- How will I know when I have succeeded?
- In what ways am I challenging myself to keep growing, learning and advancing?
- How am I helping those around me succeed?
- When I’m with others, am I really with them? (Or, am I distracted by email, text messages, and the zillion thoughts pinging around inside my head?)
When it comes to strengthening your presence, that last question is the most valuable of all. If your answer is “No,” focus your time and energy on gaining clarity with questions one through three. Notice, are your answers focused on personal or collective gain? Both? As your answers become clear, questions four and five will come with greater ease.
I recently had a chance to experience the power of presence at a convention I attended. After delivering a remarkably impactful speech, Beverly stood beside the stage as dozens of people formed a line to talk with her.
Waiting for the line to die down, I sat off to the side for nearly sixty minutes, missing my next breakout session, as I watched her give each person her undivided attention until they were done. The number of people waiting to talk to her didn’t seem to faze her, nor did she pay much attention as the hotel staff began clearing the room.
Beverly’s presence was palpable and unattached to titles, recognition or gain of any sort. She was there to serve, and as a result, she continues to shine a light on others through her Presence.
Purpose-based leadership presence begins with your ability to be fully present with your own aspirations, disappointments, and inspirations. By putting your own oxygen mask on first (knowing your answers to questions one through three), you position yourself to be present with others as they do the same.
Here’s to your greatness,