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Leadership Presence

By February 11, 2020Leadership

When we think of good leadership qualities, our mind often goes to characteristics such as wisdom, communication skills, and charisma. Technical abilities, aptitude, and competence will make the list, too. Since leaders lead, we look for results — what have they accomplished?

There are also the intangible sides of leadership, which are easier to sense and experience than to measure and quantify. Leadership presence is a good example. To be honest, a leader’s presence could be good or bad.

Examples of a negative leadership presence include:

  • Fear
  • Anxiety
  • A reluctance to speak up
  • A rush to comply
  • A lack of competing ideas
  • Little innovation
  • High turnover

On the flip side, the impact of a positive leadership presence produces:

  • Healthy conflict
  • Trust among team members
  • Constructive feedback
  • Greater effort
  • Loyalty that is earned rather than coerced
  • Room for personal growth

If leadership presence is so important, what is it? Is it just a matter of personality – that some leaders are more likable than others? Is it simply a matter of being nice?

While personality does affect leadership and being nice is better than being mean, it’s much more than just personality and niceness.

A leader who has a positive, healthy presence will be aware of how their words and actions impact others. They can sense when the room tightens or when someone is withdrawing. Rather than barge ahead, they adjust.

A healthy presence requires handling conflict in a healthy way. Not only does this build trust, it maintains the flow of new ideas. When conflict is mishandled — shouting, avoidance, manipulation — new ideas dry up.

If a leader has to resort to using the “I’m the boss” card too often and too soon, it’s probably an indication of a negative leadership presence. They sense a loss of confidence and resort to intimidation as a means of getting things done. Not healthy.

Can a person learn how to develop a better leadership presence? Or is it more fixed, like your genetics? Just like your DNA predetermines your blue eyes, is your leadership presence predetermined, too?

I don’t believe so.

I do believe every personality type has strengths and weaknesses when it comes to having a healthy leadership presence. A good leaders draws from her strengths and is aware of her limitations.

Leaders who are emotionally healthy are just better leaders. Rather than unleash their dysfunctions on the team, they take personal responsibility for managing their shadows and developing good habits.

A good coach helps, too. Athletes and singers have coaches — why not leaders? A good executive coach provides an objective view and voice, something that may be missing internally within the work environment.

Take a few moments and think of the times you were impacted by the presence of someone else. Was it good or bad, positive or negative? What caused you to feel that way?

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  • 25+ years of senior leadership experience
  • masters in management and leadership
  • presenter at the WFX National Conference
  • former president, Church Planters of the Rockies
  • helped start 2 for-profit tech companies

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