Recently, I had the opportunity to interview the author of The Power of Presence: Unlock Your Potential to Influence and Engage Others, Kristi Hedges.
Everyone recognizes leaders with “presence.” They stand out for their seemingly innate ability to command attention and inspire commitment. But what is this secret quality they exude, exactly? Executive and CEO Coach Kristi Hedges will demystify this elusive trait, revealing the importance of leadership presence.
Kristi is a communications expert, author, speaker and sought-after leadership coach. In her 20-year career working with leaders to help them communicate more effectively she’s encountered every personality type imaginable, yet remains more than a little passionate that anyone can learn presence. Her workshops and leadership coaching programs have been utilized by CEOs and teams of all sizes in companies spanning the Fortune 500, government, non-profit and privately held businesses. She runs her own coaching practice, The Hedges Company, and is a founding partner in the leadership development firm, Element North.
Here are some highlights from the interview with Kristi Hedges:
What is presence, and why is it so important for leaders to have?
When I asked people, “What is a quality someone has if they have presence?” I got answers such as assertiveness, confidence, ability to own the room and great charisma. And then I ask the question, “Name someone who influences you?” I very rarely got those same characteristics. Those qualities that we assume create presence actually don’t create presence.
We have to have presence to influence. We want to be able to get our message heard, to get an idea across or to get people to follow us and to build followership. Presence is the ability to connect with and inspire others. When you think about presence on those terms, and who influences you personally in your career, that’s much more attainable and easier to reach than just being charismatic. Another way to think about presence is our values when displayed on the outside.
[Related Post: The 15 Best Leadership Quotes to Inspire You ]
How can we learn to influence and engage others?
It starts with clarity and getting very intentional.
If we are not clear about how we want to show up then we’re not going to be influential and it’s very difficult to engage others. Thinking about it before the meeting even starts of how you want the message to be and how you want to embody and carry the message. We can’t get people to feel excited if we don’t display excitement ourselves. We can’t get people to take something seriously if we don’t take it seriously ourselves.
Make sure that your intention is conveyed through your voice language, your body language, and how you communicate in general.
How can perfectionism and limiting beliefs get in the way of our influence?
A lot of us want to be really perfect when we show up. What happens to the leadership standpoint with presence is that when you look at how people connect leaders, perfectionism is actually very alienating. With presence, it is important to also show some vulnerability. For letting people in a bit to see the things you’ve struggled with. Being able to manage and balance this is core to presence.
The limiting beliefs fuel the perfectionism. You need to be able to understand what those limiting beliefs are and how to defeat them. You need to be aware of these beliefs and replace them with a positive belief which can be really life changing in terms of how we show up.