In the previous post Can Personal Presence Change Your Relationships? I talked about two aspects of presence:
- Bringing one’s full attention and intention into the present moment, and
- The energy we exude; the way that people feel when we are around them.
Now, let’s think about how presence impacts our ability to lead others through influence.
Influence is about making things happen without exerting undue force or pressure. As a leadership superpower, your ability to influence means you inspire and encourage others–that you’re the kind of person who attracts others through your presence. The essence of who you are makes people trust you and want to follow you, to collaborate with you, even carry out your ideas or wishes. Your personal presence and the way you cultivate authentic, meaningful relationships with others enables you to achieve results in a relational, rather than transactional, way.
It’s important to remember that there are two kinds of leaders in an organization: formal and informal ones. You don’t have to be someone’s “boss” or the committee chair to lead. While our titles and job descriptions dictate our “official” sphere of power and authority, our personalities, gifts, and talents (both natural and cultivated) determine our ability to influence others. Especially in matrixed organizations where reporting relationships can be ambiguous and cross-departmental collaboration is essential, influential leaders wield the greatest potential for achieving results.
What are some characteristics of these leaders? Influential leaders bring their presence–both their undivided attention as well as their personal power–to excel at:
- Building solid relationships, both internally and externally
- Fostering deep trust with individuals and on teams
- Deeply listening and asking powerful questions with genuine curiosity
- Engaging with empathy to truly understand other person’s point of view
- Tapping into intuition to read the room and ascertain what’s going on under the surface
- Modeling vulnerability and humanity, being transparent
- Collaborating, partnering, and co-creating to give others a voice and share the spotlight
- Mentoring and developing others, empowering others to think for themselves and lead
- Connecting others to mission and shared goals
- Finding the courage to give difficult feedback in the moment with kindness and clarity
- Creating and holding healthy boundaries
- Holding others accountable through strong mutual agreements and consistency
- Asking for, graciously receiving, and integrating feedback from others
- Practicing humility and acknowledging mistakes
- Maintaining a positive perspective and outlook, including optimism and gratitude
Leading through influence requires you to drop your own ego and agenda and to fearlessly examine your own judgements and biase, staying grounded in the present moment and connected to your own values and sense of self. Modeling these relational and emotionally intelligent behaviors will attract and inspire others to do the same. They create a sense of psychological safety, positive optimism, relational courage, and inspired vision.
Cultivating the ability to influence others does not happen overnight. Those we perceive as “born leaders” with natural charisma make it look easy but rest assured: it takes time, intention, and perseverance to build credibility and demonstrate integrity over time through your behaviors and actions. Some people will trust and believe in you from the beginning, and others will need more experience first. A great place to start is giving others the gift of your genuine presence.