In assessing and coaching leaders, it is not uncommon to hear about the importance of Leadership Presence for successful leaders. While this concept is certainly the buzz in our industry, if you asked ten different people for a definition, you’d probably receive ten different responses. If this “Leadership Presence” is so essential in selecting and promoting leaders, how exactly do we measure it?

Each of us can think of at least one individual whom we’d describe as having strong leadership presence. Whether it’s a leader in your company, a political figure, a priest/preacher in your church, your children’s teacher – there are probably a couple of specific behaviors that you can speak to about this person’s style.

For example, one leader can be very results-driven, confident, a strong presenter, and credible, yet still need to work on Leadership Presence. Specifically, this leader can have a tendency to talk over others in meetings, speak so quickly that others lose his message, and may not dedicate enough time to establishing relationships with others in the workplace.

Another leader can be quite the opposite: very outgoing, having developed trustworthy relationships with everyone, also very credible, but is not assertive when facilitating meetings and does not convey excitement in communications. This leader also needs to work on Leadership Presence.

In looking at these two coaching examples, it is clear that both leaders have different development areas. So what are some attributes and behaviors that you should be paying attention to when evaluating someone’s Leadership Presence?

  • Influence and Persuasiveness: Leaders who are strong here are seen as charismatic and able to speak to the emotional drivers and hot buttons of their audience. They make their message meaningful to their audience.
  • Communication: Leaders strong in this area communicate in a clear, direct and concise manner so that the audience is able to follow their message. They are confident, yet flexible, able to tailor their style and pace based on what resonates with their audience.
  • Credibility/Knowledge: These leaders speak with conviction in their area of expertise; the audience sees them as a credible source of knowledge in their topic of discussion.
  • Emotional Intelligence: These leaders are able to relate to and empathize with their audience. Each person in the audience feels as if this leader understands the issue from their perspective.
  • Passion & Energy: These leaders generate excitement and enthusiasm. Even if it’s a topic or viewpoint that you do not necessarily agree with, they communicate with so much energy and conviction that it’s difficult not to get energized by their message.

These are a just a couple of the behaviors/attributes that define Leadership Presence. Do you see any other behaviors that you would add to this list?