For many women, the concept of leadership presence is hard to define; you know it when you see it in others, but you may be unsure how to develop it yourself. Leadership presence is a “head and heart” experience that combines authenticity, confidence, integrity, poise and intention. To lead with presence is to lead yourself and others with your best self.
Leadership presence is not about becoming something that you’re not. Actually, the opposite is true: It’s about being more of who you already are. Being solid about who you are, what your purpose is, what is important to you and how you are going to move forward will help you successfully navigate through your personal and professional life – particularly in times of difficulties or challenge. It is from that solid base that you can develop your leadership presence. These five developmental strategies will help you develop your solid base.
1. Be Authentically You.
Authenticity starts when you set out to be genuine. That is, there must be a willingness to work from and honor your genuine nature even when it feels uncomfortable and vulnerable. Here are two steps you can take to be more authentically you:
- Be clear on what your most important values are.
- Take action to align your life with your key values.
2. Live a Whole Life.
We need to feel whole to feel good about ourselves. Without wholeness, we run the risk that our life is not rich with opportunities and learning. Wholeness is your sense of identity, which is driven by your purpose. Here are two activities you can do to live a more whole life:
- Uncover what your life purpose is, and live it. Your purpose is the message you wish to drive in the world.
- Commit to living mindfully. Mindfulness calms the wandering mind so that we are better able to focus on what is important to us.
3. Be Clear.
Being clear means having a personal map that describes the terrain around you and keeps you on course with your professional and personal journey. Your personal map maintains a realistic picture of the obstacles in your path and deals with those obstacles so that you are navigating effectively through life. Here are two things you can do to help you be clear:
- Deal with the self-defeating patterns in your life that are standing in your way. Some common self-defeating patterns, particularly for women, include perfectionism, procrastination, self-doubt, rigid thinking, being a workaholic, toxic relationships and being a pleaser.
- Pay attention to what is happening around you so that you are better able to prepare for and deal with roadblocks in your way. Examine your environment using three different lenses: gender biases, unconscious biases and toxic environments.
4. Drive Your Destiny.
As a leader, you need to be in the driver’s seat of your own life. Don’t let life happen to you. If you don’t drive your destiny, you won’t achieve your personal and professional goals. Driving your destiny is about investing time in:
- Setting realistic and specific short-term goals to chart your destination
- Developing and working a plan for achieving your goals (Goals remain dreams in the absence of a clear plan.)
5. Grow Your Tribe.
Relationships are a source of joy, comfort, feedback and meaning. Growing your tribe is about building, maintaining and nurturing important relationships. This involves mapping your tribe to grow your tribe. Growing your tribe into a strong one will require people who can fulfill each of six needs for you: support, expertise, feedback, validation and energy.
Bringing it All Together
It takes courage and trust in your own style of being to confidently lead others. Being confident comes from being true to yourself – the mark of a true leader, whom others want to follow because they can trust her.
By living purposefully, you are choosing to live a whole life that is rich with opportunity and meaning. A leader who helps others find their own opportunities and meaning is someone others will want to follow.
The leader who is clear has a realistic picture of what she needs to do to take care of those things that are standing in her way, be they her own personal obstacles or the environment around her. She has a leadership presence that signals to others that she does what it takes to keep moving forward. In actively driving her destiny, the leader works her goals to live her purpose, knowing with heart and head that she is destined for great things.
A leadership presence that is marked by a generosity of spirit is one that values connection with others. This leader knows that she can’t go it alone and that it takes others to join her in accomplishing great things.
Practicing these five strategies will help leaders create a presence that is solidly and uniquely them, because it is driven by authenticity, wholeness, clarity, drive and connection.