By Elaine Jacques
Many people, despite their compelling leadership qualities, fail to create their image in the public. This is where ‘leadership presence’ comes into the picture. A leader of any field (political or business) can have a lasting impression through the right ‘leadership presence’ strategy.
Who is a leader first of all?
Every person has the potential to be a leader, no matter what job title you have. If you have ever inspired someone to believe in themself, keep going, and achieve something they didn’t think they could…you are a leader!
What is Leadership Presence?
Leadership Presence includes how you present yourself – in all of your professional and personal environments. Being a leader isn’t just for executives. And having a good leadership presence isn’t just for giving public presentations.
How can you improve your Leadership Presence?
Check your face!
- What is your face saying while you are busy talking? Are you smiling or frowning while you talk to people?
- Try to keep at least a generally pleasant expression on your face while you are listening and talking.
Are you personable?
- Do people describe you as warm and friendly? Or cold and distant?
- Think about who you enjoy talking with and why. Often it is because they are open, friendly, and welcoming to your ideas. Try to use them as an example of how you present yourself.
How’s your handshake?
- Strive for a firm handshake, dry hands, and use a vertical position whenever you shake hands.
- This gives a much better impression, than if your handshake is limp or sweaty.
Where are you looking?
- While there are cultural variations around the world; in general, you should aim for making eye contact about 60-70% of the time during conversations.
- Do not stare off into space or look at the ceiling or floor more than the eyes of the person you are speaking with.
- Don’t stare and never blink.
- Making appropriate eye contact shows interest and respect for the person you are speaking with.
How is your posture?
- Are you standing or sitting up straight, with your shoulders back and your head up? Or are you slouching?
- Using good posture shows respect for yourself and the other person.
Are you sending out mixed messages?
- If you say you want to have a conversation, but you cross your arms in front of you or start biting your nails or fussing with your jewelry; then you are sending out different messages.
- Being aware of your body language and making sure your words and your body are sending the same message out, will help you have a clear and effective leadership presence.
Use good variety and speak clearly!
- If you mumble or speak in monotonous tones; you may not even be understood – and you will be seen as boring!
- You know what it is like at a party and you see “the boring person” coming towards you…do not be that person to someone else!
- Speak clearly and use variety when you speak (purposeful pauses, changes in pitch and volume, etc.).
DO NOT YELL!
- People with effective leadership presence do not yell, intimidate, or frighten people around them.
- Demonstrate self-control over your temper and remain calm even while under stress.
- People who communicate calmly and respectfully with others; are admired, respected, and seen as more capable leaders.
Are you an active listener?
- Work at listening first to understand and speaking last.
- Listening to understand opens opportunities for new learning and growth.
- Be fully present and give others the respect of your time and attention when they are talking.
- Make sure you clarify what you think the person means by what they said before you react to what you assume they meant.
The author, Elaine Jacques, is a US-based leadership presence and leadership development coach.