3 Ways to Develop your Leadership Presence

As you become more senior at work, situations and challenges tend to become more uncertain and open-ended with no obvious solution. Problems become more complicated and personalities are more difficult to manage. The increasing complexity often results in disagreements with no clear way forward.

It’s easy to become unsure of yourself in this increasing complexity, to worry about saying or doing the wrong thing. And it’s easy to put pressure on yourself to feel you should have the answers, that you should know what to do and how to handle it. But when inner anxiety levels start to increase, strong internal emotions become difficult to manage. In turn, that can reduce your ability to access your inner resourcefulness, leading to a sense of lost presence.

Why developing your presence matters

Presence is what other people experience of you, how you build credibility, how you motivate people around you and inspire them to believe in you. But it’s not just for when things are going well – it’s also for when things get challenging – and when they go badly.

Having presence means you can deal with difficult situations without losing your head. It’s a deep sense of self-confidence and ease, knowing you can deal with any situation, even the most challenging ones. 

So how do you keep calm and keep your sense of presence? Here are 3 ways:

1. Look for presence in people around you

If you’re wanting to develop your sense of presence, start by noticing others around you at work and look out for people whose behaviour inspires respect in you and others, typically people who:-

  • are easy to listen to and are good influencers
  • have a natural sense of connection with others and can build trust
  • speak confidently, clearly and concisely with a steady pace
  • sit with an upright posture, with open and non-defensive gestures
  • who can command a room and at the same time, take a back seat and let others lead
  • who are able to use emotional intelligence to manage their emotions without being reactive
  • who genuinely listen to others and invite diverse opinions, who don’t assume they always have the right answer

2. Make the most of your strengths and know what disrupts you

Developing presence starts with understanding the value you bring to your teams, business area and organisation. Leaders with presence are able to make the most of their strengths, their personality, sense of humour and know what helps them be at their best.

This understanding acts as a foundation for the next step: knowing what causes you to lose your sense of presence. That can be things like self-critical thoughts, ambiguous situations, other people’s disapproval, wanting to please others, wanting to appear perfect. It can also be personal sources of stress. 

3. Learn to trust yourself… and others

We talk about ‘developing’ presence because it’s not easy. It takes time and requires perseverance because you will need to work on your emotions, face your own sense of vulnerability and build your tolerance for situations that challenge you. Learning to trust yourself is much easier once you accept your limitations and acknowledge you’re still learning and growing, despite years of experience and expertise.

Stay Calm and Carry on…?

Developing presence is much more than simply staying calm! Far from it. It doesn’t stop you from acknowledging that a situation is difficult, or asking for help or saying you don’t have all the answers. It’s about growing your self-awareness, harnessing your leadership strengths and bringing people with you, even through uncertainty. As a result, you’ll feel more empowered with a deeper sense of confidence and courage. 

If you’d like help developing your sense of leadership presence, just get in touch.