08 Apr 2019
April 8, 2019

Improve Your Leadership Presence

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Leadership presence, do you know what it is? Let’s say it’s the “IT” factor. We don’t know exactly what to call it, but we all seem to recognize it when we see it. It is a blending of personal and interpersonal skills that send the right signals. It’s how you present yourself, it is how you make others feel, and it is how effectively you can communicate verbally and non-verbally. These things help set you up for promotions and extend your sphere of influence.

Leadership presence is not:

1. merely given to you because of your business results.
2. always reflective of your personal qualities, skills or potential.

It depends significantly on how other people view you. One of the first things to assist you in building your leadership presence is to realize that it is mostly about impression. It helps if you are consistent. Be how you want to be perceived every day. Your leadership quotient or presence should be connected to your CORE values. If it is not, you will always struggle and have inner conflict.  Be self-aware of your strengths, weaknesses, talents, and personal biases. Acknowledging these facts is crucial when trying to aligning people’s impression of you with your best authentic self. However, don’t neglect the impact that small attitudinal or behavioral changes can have to improve how others perceive you. As a leader (or a potential leader), whether you like the sound of it or not, you are continually being evaluated. People are taking note of how well you display confidence, composure, credibility, connection, and charisma or the lack thereof.
Incorporating these simple strategies can impact a person’s impression of you and increase your presence/leadership quotient.

1. Confidence

Self-confidence is a crucial trait responsible for being seen as having leadership ability. Author, Grace Killelea, “The Confidence Effect: Every Woman’s Guide to the Attitude that Attracts Success,” considers the lack of confidence as a significant obstacle in business women. This lack often hinders their career progression. On the other hand, men don’t usually underestimate their contributions and abilities. I find that is is unfortunate that self-assured, confident women can be unfairly labeled aggressive or pushy when they speak out, take risks and assume higher leadership positions. There are many capable women who have yet to tap into their true potential. I encourage everyone to aspire to become more confident and project this confidence while maintaining authenticity. It will prove to be a benefit to you.

Confident people are not immune to doubt. It is not uncommon to find confident people suffering a crisis of self-doubt. Usually, this doubt is short lived. However, when it comes, it is helpful to have someone to walk alongside them as they develop a personal strategy. This is a time when life coaches can be an essential resource.

Confidence is displayed in your physical posture: standing straight, head up and shoulders back. Have you heard of holding a “Superman” or “Wonder Woman” pose for a few minutes to elevate your sense of power and control? It is a psychological strategy for a quick boost. However, another strategy is to trick your brain into a higher confidence state is by remembering a time when you were clearly in control or performed a task exceptionally well. Reflect on what happened, recall how you felt, and then remember what that experience was like. These emotional memories that you are tapping into foster a sense of well-being and confidence. Research findings suggest that merely thinking of a time when you felt physically attractive will also increase your level of confidence. Who knew?

2. Composure

First impressions are lasting. They can be wrong, but they often are right. What kind of impression are making? Your emotions can get high-jacked by high levels of stress. Be in control. Learn the power of pause so that anxiety, self-doubt, and insecurities are not easily seen. Learn to view a persons face from a place of inner security, then what’s on their face is about them and not us. Therefore, their scowl or frown won’t break you down. It may help to remember that, “What’s on their face is not all about me!” These words will help you move beyond the facial expressions flashing judgment, criticism, boredom, doubt, suspicion. The fact is, people have other things on their minds and may not even be thinking of you.

3. Credibility

Credibility is all about how you communicate. If you desire to be an effective leader, learn to align your body language with your verbal message? Be transparent, truthful, diplomatic, empathetic, to the point and decisive. It is essential that you try not to try to force your opinion on others. Justify why it is crucial. Tell them, then justify it with a because of a statement.
I thought this was very interesting. In a study at Harvard, people were asked to break into a line of strangers that were waiting to make photocopies. Subjects were successful 60% of the time when they politely asked, “Excuse me. I have only five pages; may I use the machine.” However, when because it was used (“May I use the photocopier because I’m in a rush”), the request instantly increased the success rate by 94%.

4. Connect by changing your focus.

Leaders must have Social capital is the wealth or benefit that exists because of their social relationships. Social capital is explained as the value created by your connection to others. It is a valuable commodity in today’s environment. The time you spend developing your professional network, within and external to your organization will pay huge dividends. Networking should not be a one-sided proposition, is not about promoting yourself or getting new business. It’s about creating or deepening professional relationships. Suggestion: At your next networking opportunity, enter each conversation to find something that you can do for the other person. Once you take the focus off promoting yourself and put it on assisting others, you are well on your way to building your relationship and improving to connect.

5. Display your openness

What are you communicating with your verbal and nonverbal language? There is an old saying, “people won’t always remember what you say, but they will never forget how you make them feel.” Some successful people make you feel that he or she is amazing – charismatic leaders will make you feel like you are! Your emotional reaction is connected with the body language. Notice the two types of leaders: The first leader showed nonverbal cues of confidence and power associated with their prestige and status, while the other radiated charisma through warm, inclusive, and open body language. Learn how to combine these signals. Studies indicate that leaders with an approachable body language are perceived more positively and are more persuasive.
What are the signs of an open and warm body language?
a) positive eye contact
b) smile
c) open postures (legs are uncrossed, and arms somewhat extended, with exposed palms or with hands resting comfortably on the desk/table).
d) mirroring is another nonverbal sign of genuine warmth and empathy.
Mirroring is when you are interacting with people you like or agree with, and unconsciously begin to match their stance. While talking with them, you adjust your arm positions and facial expressions with theirs. It’s an unconscious way of signaling that you are connected and engaged. Also, when it comes to charismatic body language, facing people directly when they’re talking is crucial. It shows that you are focused on them. A simple quarter turns away signals a lack of interest and makes the other person feel discounted. Being attentive and giving others your complete attention when they are speaking is one of the warmest signals you can send.
These simple strategies will increase your leadership presence; try them and see.

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