2 September 2014 0 Comments


shutterstock_188823320During my life I have held several leadership rolls.  I have also had the privilege of working with and for many leaders.  Some of them have been very effective; some less so.

My observations in the following several entries come from the leaders I have known and what I have learned from my own experiences as a leader.

Who wants to be a leader?

There are probably times when you will want to lead…when you will want others to follow you.  If you don’t use leadership to get them to follow, about all that’s left are threats, intimidation and bribes.  These tactics are not substitutes for leadership. In the long haul they will not work.

You can become a leader!  Here are some tips that might help.

The traits of a leader can be categorized into four general areas:

Positive attitude
                                    People skills

I start with “Presence’ because this is perhaps the most difficult to define.  The order in which they are covered is random reflecting no relevance to their importance.


One dictionary defines “presence” as “…A person’s bearing, especially when it commands respectful attention….”

Presence is actually an aura.  It carries a mystique.  It is difficult to quantify and can vary immensely from person to person. Is “presence” interchangeable with “charisma”?  “Charisma” is dictionary defined as “…A personal attractiveness that enables you to influence others….A personal magnetic charm or appeal.”

Harry S. Truman was not a charismatic figure, but he most certainly had presence.  Ronald Reagan had both charisma and presence.  Both men were leaders.  I believe that “charisma” can be an element of “presence”, but that “presence” is a more all-encompassing quality that all of history’s great leaders have possessed.  Not all have been charismatic.

Presence is made up of many factors.  Part of presence is the way a person looks and dresses.  Einstein had  presence, but if most others tried to use the same personae—frizzled hair, baggy clothes, riding to work on a bicycle—it would hardly have the same effect.

Presence should truthfully portray the character of the person from whom it emanates.  Phoniness doesn’t work, but the leader must be cognizant of the audience to which he is playing.  So an off- the- walls presence requires major extenuating strengths to over ride any negative impact.  Einstein’s grasp of his subject was all the presence he needed.  His unkempt appearance bothered no one.  In fact it almost became the hallmark for other academies seeking a presence that exuded intelligence.

Often, the more secure a person becomes in a leadership roll, the more he downplays his position.  When Executive Life was flying high, its CEO, Fred Carr was a master at this.  At one Executive Life meeting, held in the ballroom of the Grovesnor Park Hotel in London, the Queen’s Royal Guard Band had just concluded marching into the assembly of the 250-some people in attendance when a bent over man in a tweed jacket shuffled onto the middle of the floor, was handed a microphone and as the crowd quieted he simply stated, “Hi, I’m Fred Carr and I’m with Executive Life.”   Come on, Fred, everyone in the room knew that you were Executive Life!  A less secure person might have had the band play a fanfare followed by an introduction steeped with credentials and accolades.  A negative sell is sometimes produces a more effective presence.

In addition to appearance, the other elements that make up a person’s presence include vision, body language, eye contact, voice, dependability/steadiness, succinctness, charisma and sense of humor.

That’s where I go next…the elements of Presence.

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