Leadership is a hot topic today and training and development budgets worldwide will be increasing through 2022 to better develop leaders. According to C-Suite executives, the most sought-after skills for future leaders are soft skills, and of those soft skills, leadership presence tops the list.
Presence defies a one-size-fits-all definition, but someone with presence has been described as “a feeling that person radiates when others observe how he or she gracefully or seamlessly interacts with other people, other environments, and different incidents and occasions.”
There are universal principles at play in our everyday activities – at work, at home, at play – that allow us to be both influencers and be influenced; and be persuaders and be persuaded. Learning these principles can move you toward profound personal change and serve as a driving force for your individual and business success.
Indeed, the skillful application of these principles can create a distinct advantage to those who understand how to use them.
Over my 30-year career leading people and projects for Fortune 100 companies, I’ve identified four characteristics of leaders that exude presence: (1) They know how to engage others; (2) they know how to position their expertise and value; (3) they know how to use their expertise and value to influence decisions in their favor; and (4) they can easily convert other people to their position, their cause, their ideas, and their proposals.
E.P.I.C. Results® Process
Engagement, Positioning, and Influence are three important characteristics of presence-driven leaders that combine to create allies, advocates, clients, customers, fans and followers. These elements form the foundation of my E.P.I.C. Results® Process for successful persuasion strategies (see the illustration below).
Let’s briefly examine the strategy and specific tactics behind “engagementality and connectworking,” authority positioning, and social-proof influence that will elevate your leadership presence.
Most decision processes can be divided into three phases, with specific approaches for each phase: a Pre-Engagement, Direct Engagement, and Post-Engagement phases (see the table below). To establish a connection with decision makers, the pre-engagement phase uses approaches that rely on interacting through the social media channels of those decision makers. You want to establish familiarity, trust, and even a degree of likability with decision makers that makes it easy to directly engage (virtual or in person) with them.
The Three Phases of Engagement in Decision Processes
“Engagementality™” is a mindset to alway be in an engagement mode to discover opportunities for deeper connection. “Connectworking™” is similarly a mindset that takes traditional networking to a new level of effectiveness by serving as a “connector” among people in and outside of your network.
Authority positioning is using the elements shown in the table below to better position your branded value, expertise, and authority with decision makers. These elements are especially useful during the Direct Engagement Phase.
7 Elements of Authority Positioning for the Direct Engagement Phase
Social Proof Influence
We know from many studies that when people are uncertain, they seek out actions of others to guide their own actions. That’s why we read reviews of movies, restaurants, vacation spots. It’s faster and easier to rely on the opinions of others who have previous experience with our planned actions than have to personally investigate the many variables to determine what to watch, where to eat, and where to stay when travelling. More often than not, social proof is our friend rather than our foe; however, follow former President Reagan’s advice to “trust but verify” these short cuts when in doubt.
The following list of social proof examples are considered “weapons of influence” because we use them to persuade potential decision makers, clients, customers and others (relying on the opinions of others who have previous experience with our products or services) of our branded value and expertise.
Awards and honors
Book cover blurbs
Articles in professional journals
Why Does This Work?
There are three major (and simple) reasons these weapons of influence work with others:
The brain’s capacity to create associations and strengthen them with repeated exposure…THAT creates familiarity, which leads to trust, which leads to access, which leads to brand preference, which leads to conversion, compliance, cooperation
We have a preference to be around people we like
We have a preference to be around people like us