You too can have extraordinary leadership presence

Leadership Presence


Do you aspire to have extraordinary leadership presence?

I used to think some people just have it, and some people don’t. But now I truly believe leadership presence is a capacity any-one can cultivate. You too can have extraordinary leadership presence!

We’re addicted to distraction. When you’re in a state of frequent, or even constant distraction, it is difficult to focus, and it’s likely there will be an edge of anxiety surrounding you. It can be sensed by other people and becomes part of the atmosphere of your team, even your whole organisation. This habitual state of distraction leaves you disconnected from yourself, and from other people.

Presence is the antidote to distraction, and the stress and anxiety that accompany it. With practice, your leadership presence can become calm, kind and focused, and this will support others to be calm, kind and focused too.

Presence is often described as “paying attention in the present moment” but I’m actually talking about something much more radical than that. I certainly teach and encourage leaders to pay attention to their present moment experience. This is the foundation for making conscious choices about how you show up as a leader.

But what would it look like to take this idea of leadership presence much further?

Mindfulness, when understood in its breadth and depth, is both a practice and a way of being. It involves cultivating lucid awareness by being present to the whole of your experience in a spirit of curiosity, compassion and acceptance. 

Lucid awareness suggests a type of awareness that is wholehearted, intensely emotional and alive. It means being aware of the whole of your experience – body, feelings and thoughts – while also recalling your true purpose in trying to cultivate awareness in the first place. Aside from wanting to have an impact through your leadership role, I would suggest that we all, ultimately, want and need to develop into better human beings.  It’s as simple as that.

So here’s the kicker. Mindfulness is inseparably connected to the capacity to act ethically. When we are fully present to our experience, we are compelled to take responsibility for the consequences of our states of mind, our words, and our actions. 

Leadership presence therefore includes taking full responsibility for every-thing you say and do, including the impact you have on other people. In fact, this is true for all of us. We are all responsible for what we say and do, but the impact of the leader taking responsibility is significantly greater, because the leader sets the tone, and the leader shows the way. 

Even though leadership is not about you, it’s important to remember that people are actually following, and your leadership presence matters.

Maria Brett
The Growing Edge

Maria Brett is a former CEO who has been a practitioner of mindfulness for more than 25 years. Maria’s Courageous Leadership Program helps develop courageous leaders by helping them make deep and lasting changes – from the inside out – to the way they lead. To find out more, contact Maria.

© Maria Brett, 2022