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Ascent Executive Leaders Group

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Thursday Tactic 8.6.20

Our tactic this week is Presence.

So what is presence?

Presence is more than just the critical thinking, analytical, and management skills to formulate and execute a strategy. It’s not just appearance either -- though you should dress for the job you want, as they say, and get quality feedback on your posture and body language as these visual cues can add to or detract from your presence.

Presence – especially at a high level – allows you to access your full range of capability and leverage the full potential of your teams. Presence allows you to be both in the specific moment, and watching the entire scene unfold simultaneously. Presence is how (in a sports parlance) "the game slows down". This only happens with practice. You have to build this skill.

Presence is also a foundational component of emotional intelligence. Often more important than IQ in leadership is your EQ. So there is incentive to practice and improve your presence for both current and future leaders.

Leaders with presence have learned to tune out, but take notice of, distractions. They’ve unwound bad habit loops. Leaders with presence are able to maximize each moment and each interaction. This allows them to spot things ordinary leaders overlook and gain an edge over the competition.

Teams and organizations benefit because presence is necessary for people to be fully seen and heard - truly effective communication. This has a positive impact on not just task performance, but the on the overall culture of your team and organization.

So, how do you enhance your presence?

Our Tuesday Checkpoint and similar mindfulness exercises (journaling, meditation, yoga) are great for enhancing your presence.

Mindfulness exercises ask you to be present and take notice of what is happening in that moment – nothing more. In that stillness, you are able to create awareness. From this awareness you can identify gaps in your ability to be present – noticing when your mind wanders away and the length of time it takes you to regain our focus.

You cannot lead well without focus.

Awareness can also bring to light the habit loops that might be negatively impacting your ability to be present and, by extension, your ability to lead.

Another great tool is rehearsal. Yes, just practicing - your speech, your sales pitch, your presentation and your expected Q&A - will enhance your presence because you will be calmer and better prepared. A well-rehearsed presentation means you can maintain eye contact and good posture. It means you can deliver your remarks and address questions with confidence.

A final tool, and perhaps the most powerful, is coaching. Coaching is designed to take you from where you are today, to where you want to go. In this case, a coaching outcome would be "enhanced presence for better leadership. Holding regular sessions with a coach will help you stay clear and focused on your desired outcome, as well as provide a source of accountability.

However you choose to work on your leadership presence just don't skip this work! It will pay huge dividends for you as a leader, and your organization.


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