There is a certain kind of person that we have all encountered at some point in our lives that has that certain “something”. When they walk into a room people pay attention and when they speak people nod their heads in agreement. They’re not necessarily outgoing; they may be a quieter type but there’s something about them that begs you to pay attention, to take them seriously, to listen to what they have to say and to believe them.
Have you ever wondered what impact you have when you enter a room or what people feel when you leave? As a leader have you ever taken stock of how others experience you? Call it energy, call it power, call it whatever you like but I call it “presence”. I have always been fascinated with leaders who carry the power of presence because as a boss, leader and individual it could be the difference between being taken seriously or not. In essence, your personal brand of presence can make or break your success and could very well be the key ingredient from one level to the next.
In order to truly break down presence and the awareness that it is, I think it is important to dive into understanding in a very clear way what it means. Being derived from the word present it is plainly the ability to act/perform and the ability to manifest. I may be getting ahead of myself but I believe it’s safe to say where there is poor performance there may be a lack of presence. Presence is a vehicle of manifestation.
While doing the research for this article as fate would have it I stumbled on a book by Kristi Hedges called: “The Power of Presence” In this article, I’d like to discuss some of her ideas mixed with my own personal experience. In my own life, I have always related presence to personal alignment with a strong dose of self-awareness. In business, it’s when a leader has no contradiction in their state of being. They are who they say they are and they do what they say they’ll do. Let me say it a better way. According to Hedges, it’s a three-part equation that involves your communication and your actions being in alignment with your motives.
One of the main concepts in the book that is often overlooked in corporate circles is your presence of mind. As Henry Ford famously said: “Whether you think you can, or you think you can't – you're right,” Contrary to popular belief, presence is not a just a thing that some have been born with but, it can also be taught.
Becoming powerfully present requires you to have a keen understanding of your true authentic self and your impact on others. Presence requires clearness of mind and to walk with a non-judgmental awareness of your inner and outer worlds. In particular, it’s an awareness of the flow of experience in your inner world – and alert observing of your thoughts, emotions, body sensations, desires, memories, images, personality dynamics, attitudes, and their impact on your outer world.
Moving through life this way creates stability of mind, that allows you to be grounded thereby creating a powerful presence and awareness within itself. With practice, it becomes increasingly easy to both have presence and be present. You abide more and more in a sense of soundness as experiences arise, register, and pass away leaving your core motives and the congruency of your words and actions intact. One of the most present leaders of our time Nelson Mandela would be a great of example of someone who mastered his internal alignment with what he said and what he did. While I did not have the pleasure of meeting him, I have had the pleasure of knowing those who did. He was a true leader in every sense of the word. According to my sources when he walked into a room you were filled with reverence and when he spoke you could possess no other thought except to focus upon what he was saying. In my humble opinion, he was without contradiction. Over the course of my career, if you were to ask me what is the single most important quality that a leader could have, hands down I would say it is the power of presence. Not because it gives you buy-in or influence. Not even because it’s just an amazing superpower to have. I would say presence is one of the most important qualities to possess because a person who has presence must first be present. In a world filled with distractions people appreciate that and in return will work hard for and with you knowing that you stand with them.