This week begins a series of blogs on leadership presence, what it entails, and how to obtain it.
At Corporate Class, our team has done much research on the terms executive and leadership presence. Some say Executive Presence is a subset of Leadership Presence and we believe these terms are interchangeable. When you look at the description of each according to different authors, they are most often referring to the same thing.
One responder to a blogger’s attempt to define the difference between leadership and executive presence writes: “It is hard for me to imagine that any leader with good leadership presence (as described above) would not have good executive presence (perceived as worthy of being at an executive level by those around them). And anyone with poor leadership presence would also have poor executive presence (you may dress well and speak well but in short order people at an executive level will know whether or not you are all hat and no cattle- lipstick on a pig concept).”
Belle Linda Halpen and Kathy Lubar wrote a comprehensive book entitled “Leadership Presence: Dramatic Techniques to Reach Out, Motivate and Inspire.” The book details what leadership presence is, who has it, and how people can obtain it. The first chapter of the book, “What Actors Have That Leaders Need, ” explains the idea of “presence” and what that entails.
So what exactly is “presence”?
Many of the most famous actors and politicians – Meryl Streep, Johnny Depp, Winston Churchill – instantly command your attention when they walk into a room to give a speech, or walk onto the red carpet. Why is that? It is not simply because they are famous, but rather, they possess presence.
One key factor of presence – and in turn of these famous figures – is that they command the attention of others, almost effortlessly. People stop and stare, wanting to know what’s going to happen next. However, according to Halpen and Lubar, commanding attention “is only one outcome of presence, not its essence or even its most valuable outcome” (Halpern and Lubar 3).
“Presence is the ability to connect authentically with the thoughts and feelings of others” (Halpern and Lubar 3)
As made obvious by this statement, the underlying structure of presence is the ability to connect. One might believe that this ability either comes naturally to a person or does not, and that the person without it is, well, out of luck. fortunately, according to the authors, that is not the case. In fact, “presence is a set of skills, both internal and external that virtually anyone can develop and improve” (Halpern and Lubar 3). This is fantastic news! However the authors poignantly state that in order for someone to learn leadership presence, they must take themselves out of their comfort zone, and for this reason, learning it is no easy task.
The elements of leadership presence
The authors discuss the elements of leadership presence by using what is called the PRES model of Leadership Presence, which they’ve conceived of based on their years of theatrical and performance experience, as well as what they’ve both learned from teaching presence to leaders.
PRES Model of Leadership Presence:
P: stands for “being present” – the ability to completely be in the moment.
R: stands for “reaching out” – the ability to build relationships with others
through empathy and listening.
E: stands for “expressiveness” – the ability to express feelings and emotions
S: stands for self-knowing – the ability to accept yourself and to be authentic.
The PRES Model of LP is in total alignment with topics covered under the four pillars of Executive Presence of Corporate Class Inc. System. So it is worth noting that leadership presence is definitely very much entrenched in executive presence.
Next week, we will look at “Being Present”, a core value of executive/ leadership presence, depending which term resonates best with you.
Halpern, Belle Linda and Kathy Lubar. Leadership Presence: Dramatic Techniques to Reach Out, Motivate and Inspire. New York: Gotham Books, 2003. Print.