Simply because you hold a leadership role, it doesn't mean that you have 'leader presence'. Leader presence is not an innate quality; it is a set of behaviors that you can learn over time. Whether you are a natural wallflower or a social butterfly, you can enhance your presence by doing the following:
- Focus and relax. Calm is the foundation of presence. Use your breathing as an anchor that you return to when you get stressed or start to lose focus.
- Gain awareness. To change your behavior, you need to know how you are perceived. Pay attention to how people react to you and ask for candid feedback from those you trust.
- Practice with support. Telling a colleague or mentor you're working on presence can boost your skills and confidence. The feedback you receive can also reinforce momentum.
- Start by buying time. One of the first behaviours to demonstrate presence is informing those who ask questions that you need some time. Try saying this: "This is important. I want to give it some thought and to check with some others. I don't want to rush my response. I'll get back to you tomorrow." Comments like this build your presence by indicating that you take time, you see what's important, you think things through, you reflect, you consult when necessary, and you'll respond when you are ready. Each of these is an aspect of 'leader presence'.
Adapted from "Developing Executive Presence" by Joshua Ehrlich.