Clients often ask, “How can I wield more influence?” Or, “How can I create a bigger impact?”
Personal Presence is hard to define and yet when we encounter it we recognize it. I remember looking at a gym that had some unknown (to me) martial arts class. I watched a man walk through the door and cross the lobby and I knew that guy was the instructor. His movement, his confidence, his energy, all said he had it together.
You see it as well, with the lady at the airport that walks with purpose towards her gate and the passengers, that typically mill around in confusion in terminals move aside and the lady moves right to where she wants to be. It seems effortless.
When people have a powerful personal presence, things tend to go their way. They get the job, the sale or the relationship. So how can you develop the leadership presence that gets things done? Here are some ideas:
- Get clear on what you want. That sounds easier than it is. For example, I recently was at a pitch session at a meetup of One Million Cups. This is a weekly gathering of people who listen to business ideas and investor pitches (really, they are pre -investor). And then they get some feedback. In this particular session a young lady presented a project for a film. She told us why she was interested, who the target audience was and how it would serve the world. You could tell she cared. And yet she did not tell us how much money she needed. Nor did she tell us what the financial return or benefit to investors or donors would be. As a result, there was a lot of confusion and questions.
Getting clear on what you want is important and it requires that you slow down and get clear.
- What impact do you want to have? What will people feel in their hearts as a result of their encounter with you? Do you want to inspire confidence? Do you want to project power? Do you want to connect and influence? What would people need to feel from you to achieve this goal? For example, there was a time when I was selling to an audience that was conservative and did not really like a lot of change. I chose to show up in a more casual, relaxed, and interested way versus the blue pinstripe suit and bright red tie, assertive way. I wanted them to feel comfortable with my presence.
I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. ~ Maya Angelou
- Answer the question, “Who do I have to be to make this happen?” This is more than faking it until you make it. It requires you to examine your beliefs and, if necessary, work on your beliefs to make sure you are aligned with the presence you want to bring.
This showed up for me on my way to a client pitch. I was interviewing to become a facilitator with a company that I wanted to work with. I had just come back from a vacation to see my family and had all of the emotional baggage that comes from visiting family running through my head. “Am I good enough?” “What if they don’t like my career background?” “What am I doing… I don’t have the kind of experience they are looking for?”
As I am driving to their office I am watching, this chatter in my head and I realize this is NOT going to support my goal. So, when I pulled into the parking spot, I chose to shift my beliefs. I took a couple of deep breaths and then remembered all of the groups I had facilitated and the experience I had as a speaker and trainer. I remembered how successful I had been in other circumstances that were new to me. And I could feel a shift in my attitude.
Before I got that shift, I had to slow down, recognize my beliefs, and the beliefs that I wanted to shift to.
- Then there is the determining “how you will demonstrate this”? What action, what question, what posture, will you show up with to bring your presence? This is the last step and it will not be effective without the clear answers to the steps above.
If you want to let an employee know that you have some difficult feedback AND you don’t want to lose that employee, ask yourself, “How can I demonstrate psychological safety so that they can hear this feedback without shutting down?” It might be by having the conversation in a neutral location. I got my first, “You don’t play well with others,” feedback at a restaurant in Dallas, after throwing my phone at a wall.
Because I knew my boss cared, and that he had my interests at heart, I was able to take steps to change the way I behaved and communicated with others.
There are three conversations that you must master for managerial and leadership success. To get your details on these three conversation click here. To talk about challenging communications in your teams lets schedule a call, my treat.
image courtesy of
Heart-field.jpg – Wikimedia Commons