As a learning leader, you are smart, skilled and loaded with leadership ability. But do you have the leadership presence needed to advance within your organization?
Leadership presence is the elusive quality that sets you up for the next promotion and gives your career that extra boost — but leadership presence is not automatically assigned because of title, intelligence, technical talent or leadership skill. Instead, leadership presence is all about impression management. Since it is totally dependent on the impression you, enhancing your presence requires a deep understanding of the impact of your appearance, your body language, your emotional state and how well you communicate key messages.
Building leadership presence isn’t about looking for ways to “fake it ‘til you make it.” Rather, it’s about learning how to exhibit qualities you already possess. The goal is to align other people’s impression of you with your best authentic self so that you stand out as the talented leader you are.
The qualities of leadership presence include credibility, confidence, composure, connection and charisma. Here are a few tips that will help you express these qualities:
One sure way to increase people’s perception of your credibility is to get to the point. With the number of distractions people have today, it’s important to communicate in a way that’s both compelling and brief. Simplicity isn’t just a “nice-to-have” communication skill. It’s a necessity in order to be perceived as credible.
If you ramble or beat around the bush, you lose any hope of holding people’s attention. A good test is to ask yourself: “In 10 words or fewer, what is my key message?” If you can’t state it succinctly to yourself, you are not ready to communicate it to others.
Confidence is the trait most associated with leadership presence, and the best body language tip for looking your confident best is to stand and sit with good posture: shoulders squared, head straight, arms slightly away from your torso, and feet flat on the floor if seated and about shoulder-width apart if standing.
Posture is especially important in a virtual environment, where your body language makes an instant statement about your level of confidence. A side benefit is that good posture not only makes you appear more confident but also makes you feel more grounded and self-assured.
As a leader, you set the emotional tone for your team, and your team members will respond differently to the same statement depending on how you word it. For example, “We have a 90% chance of success” has the same meaning as, “We have a 10% possibility of failing,” but people will respond better to the positive interpretation.
To inspire your team to stay calm, focused and motivated, choose your words and actions carefully so that you are a model of optimism and poise under pressure.
In today’s uncertain environment, your ability to make genuine connections is more important than ever. The golden rule is to “treat others as you wish to be treated,” but the platinum rule reminds us to “treat others the way they want to be treated.” You can apply the platinum rule by addressing the emotional state of your team members. Asking them how you can help is a powerful way to connect.
Charisma is a flow of energy that is projected through your unique character and talents. Whether your style of charisma is based on confidence, credibility, composure or connection, you’ll display more of your authentic brand of charisma as you recognize, appreciate and play to your strengths:
- If you are a leader with high credibility, your charisma is a reflection of your reputation, experience and expertise — the qualities that give people faith in the accuracy of what you say.
- If you lead with confidence, you encourage others to embrace risks and take challenges, which elevates their confidence and drives their own and the organization’s success.
- If you stay calm when people around you are losing control, your team members will look to you in stressful times.
- If your brand of charisma is based on connection, you are empathetic, trusted and approachable — all of which are essential leadership ingredients, especially in stressful times.
With the five Cs of leadership presence, you can start to be seen as the outstanding leader you truly are.