How do you establish - or re-establish - your credibility?
One of the most common things I get asked about is how to create a leadership presence. A similar question is "how do I get people to take me more seriously as a leader?"
You can't answer these questions in a single blog. In fact, our training program devotes an entire day to this subject. It's called "Establishing Your Leadership Presence".
The simplistic answer is to be yourself. But there's more to it. In leadership, cultivating a strong presence goes beyond commanding authority. Here are my 8 essential elements to creating your leadership presence:
Self-aware leaders are honest with themselves. They know exactly what their strengths and weaknesses are. They are transparent with others about those strengths and weaknesses.
Self-aware leaders understand they're always on stage. Whether you're in the office or virtual. people are watching and pay attention to even the smallest details.
EQ comprises several skills such as empathy, social regulation. It includes the ability to perceive and understand your emotions as well as those of others.
I like to bring it down to one directive: Know Your Audience. The best leaders adapt their style to the person they are interacting with. It’s never “one size fits all”; it’s ‘one size fits one.
Authentic leaders are genuine, transparent and true to themselves. There's alignment between their actions and values with sincerity and integrity. It involves leading with honesty and openness. It means being true to yourself.
When leaders are authentic, they foster trust and credibility among everyone around them.
Communication & listening
I’ve long said the ability to effectively communicate supersedes any other leadership tenet. You can be great in every other facet of leadership, but unless you can communicate well, you’re never going to succeed.
But communication isn’t just talking or sending an e-mail. Equally important is the ability to listen. Great listening improves other essential presence elements like EQ, self-awareness and adaptability.
Kindness and decency
The golden rule always applies. Treat others the way you want to be treated. Kindness doesn’t mean weakness. The corollary here is what goes around, comes around.
Many times in my corporate career I worked for a supervisor only to have them work for me years later. Keep that in mind.
I’m convinced that adaptability – the ability to change – is today's #1 need for leaders. Is your default, “but we’ve always done it that way”? Or is your response to change a clear commitment to find new ways to succeed?
People are watching you, and you can’t bluff your way out of it. Resistance is futile.
Endless curiosity and a commitment to continuous learning are essential. As technology and the workforce evolve, leaders must keep pace. Invest time and effort in acquiring new knowledge, skills, and perspectives. Being a never-ending learner ensures growth and prevents obsolescence.
Many leaders proclaim they have an ‘open door policy’. But they fail to realize for many employees, it’s really hard to cross that threshold. When employees have access to leadership, there's a sense of empowerment and inclusion. Access reduces hierarchical barriers and promotes open dialogue. Crucially, it allows employees to feel heard and valued.
Accessibility enhances trust, engagement, and collaboration among the team.
Leadership presence is multifaceted. The good news is that it isn’t inherited. Anyone can develop presence if you're intentional about succeeding as a leader.
Just so you know, I personally write each one of my posts. There’s no AI or ghostwriter here; it’s just me.
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