It’s hard to believe that the United States is once again in “Presidential election campaign mode”. The Democratic potentials are vying for recognition, in order to be nominated. The Republicans are counting on President Trump showing up as a leader in order to be re-elected. Parties and politics aside, there is much to be learned by listening and watching the candidates trying to influence your decision. The goal is to be persuasive and to be seen as a leader. You may not want to be president, but no doubt you want to be recognized as a leader regardless of your official position.
What are some takeaways and skills you can use to demonstrate your own leadership? Let me mention a few: Leadership Presence, Influencing Skills, and Speaking to Lead.
Let’s look at the specifics. Put a mirror up to yourself and decide what skills you need to enhance:
- Demonstrating authenticity
- Demonstrating the ability to articulate a message and be expressive
- Being inspirational
There are many possible definitions of the phrase “Leadership Presence”. Some say that it is the ability to connect authentically with others, having a comfortable confidence. For those who possess leadership presence, it means that people think they are the “real deal” and will trust/listen/follow them. I like to say that Leadership Presence is the influential intangible.
The term “leadership” itself is defined as: “The root cause of influence”; “Acting from a place of clarity and from a conviction such that you inspire others to take action;” and “The ability to command authority over and draw a following from a group of people.”
Leadership Presence can be demonstrated from the inside out or the outside in.
By starting on the inside, it means that you are present. You take time with your direct reports, colleagues and customers. You are not constantly multitasking. You understand what motivates your team, what they are about, what their challenges are. Most employees leave companies, not due to the job, or the money, but because of their manager.
When a manager demonstrates empathy, truly listens and cares, employees will jump through hoops for him/ her. Leaders understand this. They know what matters to their people. When they communicate – both good and bad news, their teams know it is in the best interest – not just for themselves, but for the greater good.
Demonstrating presence from the outside in is how they carry themselves. The overarching feeling they portray is confidence. Are they always confident? Of course not – no one is. But the signals they send make others feel confident about them. Visually, they do this by standing tall, having direct eye contact, an expressive face, and a good handshake. Dressing varies depending on industry and position, but good grammar never varies. It shows that you pay attention to detail. A confident leader sounds confident, both by having a strong voice inflection and by using strong language. You probably are noticing this listening to the candidates. A lower pitch with variety makes a difference.
The ability to influence others is critical, not just for the political candidates, but for you as well if you want to be a leader. Your presence and your message will influence others and call them to action.
Your role models may differ – and there is no singularity in wanting to demonstrate leadership. After all, President Kennedy and President Obama had very different styles from Steve Jobs and Oprah Winfrey. But they are all leaders who inspire others. They communicate, influence and inspire others to take action and embrace change.
The good news is skill building around leadership presence, influencing and speaking can be learned – if you are willing to push yourself out of your comfort zone and practice new techniques.