What is Presence?
‘I know it when I see it’ is what most of us would say. But here’s a definition that might help:
“It reveals itself as the magnetic, radiating effect you have on others when you’re being the authentic you, giving them your full respect and attention, speaking honestly and letting your unique character traits flow. As leaders, we must be technically competent to gain others’ respect, but it’s our unique genuine presence that inspires people and prompts them to trust us’ James Scouller, The Three Levels of Leadership.
So, presence is not an act or an image. It’s not ‘window dressing’; it’s not a ‘charm offensive’ and it’s not about power over others – and it’s not necessarily about title, seniority or age.
And it’s definitely not trying too hard to be somebody else. (Although observing others and learning from them can always help us to be our best – in fact, I highly recommend doing just that!)
One way to look at it is to think about being our best REAL selves!
We’ve all come across leaders with presence.
- Leaders with presence inspire us to do our best work – and mobilise us to take action.
- Their words and actions are congruent (they don’t say one thing and do another) and they don’t shy away from dealing with the ‘tough stuff’. They ‘speak their truth’ – concisely, clearly and with impact (no waffling or muttering) – and with positive intent.
- Leaders with presence are self-confident but not arrogant.
- They can be at their most powerful and ‘present’ when they are silent; listening. Not just when they are in the spotlight. In fact, leaders with presence can help others to shine.
- Leaders with presence are comfortable with who they are. That’s NOT the same as saying ‘that’s just the way I am and I can’t change’. Leaders with presence are willing to hear feedback and to improve in the areas that will make a positive difference to their leadership.
- Leaders with presence often have a strong personal ‘brand.’ We know what they stand for.
Is Presence the same as Charisma?
I don’t believe it is. Leaders with presence may have charisma but leaders with charisma may not necessarily have presence.