How to develop stronger leadership presence
Good leadership is crucial for any business. There’s a big difference between being just a boss and being a leader. While a boss simply tells people what to do and how to do it, a true leader guides and motivates their team to achieve goals while developing their professional skills. Not embracing true leadership could cost you your entire team.
It takes commitment and effort to improve your leadership skills, but doing so will help you and your workers thrive and grow. Here are ways by which you can create a stronger leadership presence within your company as provided by members of Forbes Coaches Council.
- Connect with your team
Leadership presence is defined by four behaviors: being present, connection, expressing and self-knowing. Connection is by far the behavior that makes the greatest impact on people. Someone can be a powerful orator, but without personal connection, the impact is diminished. Leaders who make the connection are perceived as more relatable and down to earth, which creates greater trust and loyalty.
- Help others become successful
Many leaders with a strong presence have the ability to create connections. They use their network and resources to help others become successful. They seem to build up those around them without being overly concerned about how others can benefit them. Interestingly, this model creates a culture where others want to go above and beyond to help the leader become successful.
- Consistently support your employees
Distinguish yourself as a strong leader by consistently demonstrating authentic values in decision-making, communication and behavior. Employees grow weary of inconsistent leaders who change to benefit their self interests. Therefore, develop a more authentic and consistent presence. For example, if you truly believe in your employees, show it. Go to bat for them to get a pay raise or promotion.
- Develop and demonstrate gravitas
Gravitas is confidence and expertise. It gives weight to your thoughts, words and actions, causing others to gravitate towards you. It’s knowing your stuff cold, which gives you a credible, influential voice. To develop it, first give value to yourself, your thoughts and knowledge. Then, become a subject matter expert in your area and show that you are able to answer any question thrown at you.
- Raise your level of emotional intelligence
The lifeblood of strong leadership presence is the essence of your character and how that is conveyed and perceived by your audience. A respectful demeanor, genuine authenticity, empathy, caring, emotional connection, integrity and effective interpersonal communication are some of the core competencies that form the basis of establishing and maintaining a strong leadership presence.
- Encourage collaboration and equality
Stronger leadership presence arises by demonstrating a common cause with all team members and through actions that show that the cause can only be achieved through a partnership where every person has equal status, regardless of position. In this way, leaders show respect for themselves and for others and a responsibility for jointly achieving results. Presence is felt rather than assumed.
- Embrace the truth
When a leader tells the truth, makes decisions based on truth, verifies truth before taking action and expects the truth, a leader creates a trusted certainty for others. This foundational truth exudes integrity, builds credibility and inspires confidence in that leader.
- Embody a service mentality
Do you work for a company that serves its employees? Do those employees then serve the customers well? What happens when a new team leader or CEO gets hired without that service mentality? Especially if you work in a culture where service is not honored and appreciated, stand out by serving those on your team—without fanfare and without the expectation of something in return. You’ll stand out!
- Keep open-door office hours
The best leaders prioritize and schedule openness and access. It is called “holding office hours” in the academia and “an open door policy” in business and the military. Regardless, it’s important to be able to engage and understand your people in the moment, being present, physically and emotionally.
- Know how to focus
Business is complicated. Growing teams is even more so. Industry, economy, environmental and sales impacts can cause teams and people to lose focus and deviate from their mission. You want to demonstrate empathy, business acumen and strong character, but the best leaders can follow through, execute and focus on their mission, team, commitments and strategy through both difficult and good times.
- Grow your self-confidence
Leaders must believe in their own ability to lead. When you are confident, you are willing to take risks, accept the failures and then learn from the missteps. In order to demonstrate confidence authentically, you must be knowledgeable. Leadership presence is about how you communicate, your level of self control, and your attitude and outlook, as well as your appearance and level of expertise.
- Know what you stand for
If you don’t know who you are and what you stand for, how will others know? People connect with people they trust. This trust comes from a sense of knowing where they stand with you. So get clear on your personal principles. Then live and breathe these in every interaction you have.
- Admit you don’t always know best
Yes, confidence is an important piece of being a strong leader, but equally important is being able to admit when you don’t have all the answers. By showing vulnerability and an enthusiasm to learn from your team, you will empower them to take responsibility for finding the answers or solutions. When they find them, the result will be increased team and individual confidence.
- Lead yourself first
The greatest leaders out there learned to lead themselves first. They overcame fears, faced their inner conflicts and worked with top coaches, mentors and experts to live by example first. The end result? Traits like self-acceptance, compassion, kindness, humor and a more profound way of looking at life. This intense self-work reveals itself in a strong, positive, almost magnetic presence.