Successful leaders know how to embody themselves and use their presence to have an impact on those they seek to lead.
They are able to create an energetic field (don't get hung up on whether this is a literal field or a metaphorical one) which affects those included in it by the leader.
Basic PracticeThe basic practice for developing presence consists of a 4 stage centring process:
- Breathe: Sitting (or standing) upright, breathe in, imagining the breathe rising up your front and allowing a feeling of uplift. Holding this uplift, breathe out with a long exhale down your back.
- Balance: Notice the energy bubble around you. Balance it so it extends the same distance from you front and back; the same in front and behind; and the same above and below.
- Relax: Let gravity pull your shoulders and jaw down.
- Inquire: Ask yourself "What if I had 2% more relaxation in my body?" (or some other quality).
With familiarity this will only take a few seconds.
Once we have the ability to be aware of our energy field and to centre ourselves in it, we can start to use this field to vary our presence and impact.
The Shape of Listening and IncludingListening is a circle shape and makes room for what is being said.
Expand the field to include those speaking so that they are within your space. Allow what is said - particularly challenges, etc - to land in the space (for example on the table in front of you) rather than on you. The space becomes a shock absorber, allowing you to hear what is being said without taking it personally. In doing this you feel more centred and grounded, and you appear as having greater presence.
The Shape of AdvocatingAdvocating, taking a stand and saying what is true is a triangular, pointed shape and allows you to embody your intent.
Shape your field into a triangle with one long side behind you and one of its points behind the person you are seeking to impact so that they are included within the triangle. Your attention should be beyond the person on the apex of the triangle. The space becomes a wedge allowing you to drive your agenda.
I learnt this process on an excellent Leadership Emdodiment workshop run by John Tuite
On a related topic, there is also an interesting TED talk by Amy Cuddy who shows how "power posing" - standing in a posture of confidence, even when we don't feel confident - can affect testosterone and cortisol levels in the brain, and can even have an impact on our chances for success by changing other people's perceptions of us.