11 September 2014 0 Comments

Leadership Part 4

shutterstock_197903279Concluding the elements that go into Presence in a leader.

Succinctness

Don’t you wish this was a trait that all of our leaders possessed?  Wouldn’t it be great to turn on “Meet the Press” one Sunday morning and actually have a politician answer a question with a simple “Yes” or “No” when that is all that is called for?   But that seldom happens with politicians. They go on and on and on and in the end very often don’t answer the question that was asked.

Leaders in business do a much better job at being succinct than do politicians.  But many striving for leadership in all walks of life often feel that the merit of an answer is measured by the number of words used.  In today’s need for instant answers, the overly verbose responder runs the risk of being “deleted” before their words end.

A true leader is never afraid of admitting, “I don’t know, but I’ll get you an answer.”  No one can be expected to have the answer to every complex question at their finger tips.  The worst time not to be succinct is when you really don’t know what you’re talking about, but you continue to talk anyway.

When you are succinct you may run the risk of coming across as disinterested or arrogant.  So, to avoid this impression, you might add, “Did I answer your question…or would you like me to expand on that?”  Now you have the best of both worlds.  You have been succinct and have still provided for a further dialogue if that is what is called for.

Succinctness in the written word is easier today than it has ever been.  The use of “Word” on computers allows for multiple edits and re-writes.  In business communications, less is usually better.  Don’t be repetitive or redundant—there, you caught me.  Cut…cut…cut…oops, that was too much, too.


Charisma

Charisma is that inner power possessed by those who exude a magnetic attraction without even realizing that it exists.  Those who have charisma often have no idea that they have it or how they acquired it.  You can work on it, but oh so subtly, remembering that many great leaders in history were not at all charismatic.  Charisma is more likely to be exhibited through ruminations than through exploitations.  Thoughtfully pondering the words of others will have a more magnetic effect than bombastically expounding your own beliefs.

If charisma is the ability to attract others to you through magnetism, then presenting yourself as one who is more interested in what others are accomplishing then what you can offer will automatically provide an incoming stream of support.  Others will perceive you as charismatic because you perceive them as being important.  Charisma is in the eye of the beholder.


Sense of Humor

A sense of humor is most certainly a part of “presence”.  Fun is good!

Perhaps the most telling attribute of a person with a true sense of humor is the ability to laugh at one self.  Self deprecation is an endearing quality that allows leaders to come through in difficult times.  Being able to diffuse a tense situation with properly placed humor is a talent.  With that said, humor needs to be intelligently and sensitively deployed.

Humor should not be forced.  It must come naturally and flow with the situation at hand.  Humor is not necessarily the ability to tell a joke.  In fact, some of the worst attempts at humor are jokes uncomfortably inserted at the beginning of a public address by a speaker who is as uncomfortable at telling the joke as is his audience at having to listen to it.  A sense of humor is just that…a sense of what is naturally humorous, often within the mundaneness of everyday life.


The Mystique of Presence

I began this discussion on Presence by stating that it had a mystique and aura and was difficult to define.  Then I conveniently listed the elements of “presence” as though that’s all there was to it.  But there is much more.  These elements are only a start of what goes into “presence”.  How the leader portrays these qualities to followers is as important as the qualities themselves.

The most successful leaders have a knack for making the difficult look easy.  They can walk through a maelstrom seemingly without a hair out of place.  They are unflappable.  It’s not a lack of emotion, for its emotion that drives people.  But it is a lack of calling attention to oneself.  Those who possess these traits need not call attention to them.  Others will call attention to them.  Others will notice them.  The strength is there!

Many individuals are weak in more than one of the listed attributes and yet still have “presence”.  Extreme strength in one area can overcompensate for weakness in another area.  It’s the entire package that creates the “presence” and it is often an initial impression that causes people to decide whether or not they are willing to follow this leader.

“Mystique” is still there because the strong leader often has the ability to merely exude these traits with no apparent effort or cognizance.  It comes from within and it is the result of how the leader feels about himself…

…which brings us to the next element—Positive Attitude.

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