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Developing Leadership Presence

You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”-Inigo Montoya, The Princess Bride

Remember that great line? Of course you do. Why? Because it’s timeless and applicable to so many situations.

Take the terms “leadership presence,” or its synonym, “executive presence,” for instance. Depending who you ask, the meaning differs wildly.

Are we talking about posture, clothing, or the words leaders use? Maybe it’s one; maybe it’s all three. One thing is for certain: when we think of “leadership presence” many leaders are left wondering, “What is this and how do I get it?”

Google these terms and what was mildly unclear becomes downright opaque. From definitions to models to companies offering badges for reaching a level of presence, there’s a lot of information out there, each with its own spin.

The following helped me to clear the internet clutter. Simon Sinek, author and inspirational speaker, wrote “Leadership is not about being in charge. Leadership is taking care of those in your charge.”

When people first become managers, there’s a hyper-focus on setting expectations and goals, while ensuring the work and tasks are completed.

But that’s only the first leg of the journey toward leadership. Managers who morph into leaders transition from completing tasks and making sure people are “doing the things,” to coaching, mentoring, and empowering their team.

Managers are: Focused on tasks, plans, execution with accuracy. They direct, control and have others follow them.

Leaders are: Focused on people, inspiring, influencing, and motivating. They build, shape and guide.

Leadership is about moving beyond the level of managing people (which can often feel like herding a flock for best results) to expanding your sphere of influence, your knowledge base, and your view of the horizon.

I know what you’re thinking. “That’s great, Ellen. How do I get there?”

I’m so glad you asked!

To help managers along the journey toward leadership, I’ve developed a program called LEAD.

L – Leverage strengths to shepherd team

E – Empower team members to take risks, fail fast and learn

A – Advise and mentor to share learned wisdom

D – Develop horizontally and vertically for exponential growth

LEAD is about building on the foundational management skills that have served you well, and moving into the next phase of your career – as a leader. It’s about “taking care of those in your charge” with a new mindset and deeper skills.

And from there, the leadership presence will come. You’ll generate that elusive leadership presence, which benefits you and your team.

Curious to learn more about LEAD and whether it’s the right fit for you on your leadership journey? Contact me at to learn more in a 20-minute complimentary consult call.

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