Professional Presence is an amalgamation of any number of leadership skills that are personal, and very vulnerable in both exposure and growth and are also public in developing relationships at a variety of levels in the workplace. Let’s break this down, what is the square root of Professional Presence?
Part One: Professional
More than a title, or a promotion, being professional is basic – attire, expression, body language, or handshake. It’s also complex – attitude, word choice, leadership style, growth and development, expertise.
Are you professional? Most folks respond with a resounding YES. Let’s step back for a second and look through a different lens. Professional athletes are asked to perform their sport at the highest level – to entertain us with their physical prowess, and to educate us in mindset and approach as they answer questions for media and fans. Who comes to mind when you think about someone who is terrific in their sport, yet not so great in their communication?
Translate this into your business world. What names or faces conjure up that are professionals, perhaps masterful, as a technician. Yet put them in front of others in a meeting, or an audience, and they don’t foster trust, respect, or relationships.
Part Two: Presence
Presence is often defined as commanding respect. Commanding respect is generating a positive first impression – bringing poise, self-confidence, and control to relationships, interactions, and leadership. We determine whether we like someone or not in the first 0.7 seconds of our interaction. This means our best foot forward has broad implications, including our facial expressions, handshakes, and inflection of our voice.
This basic definition is accented by the complexity of understanding communication styles, bringing forward different leadership styles to match the situation (people, process, and performance), and the self-awareness to connect your authenticity with social-awareness and cues for timing on conversations – both difficult and easy ones.
I recently watched (on mute) 30 minutes of coverage with Floyd Mayweather and Conor
McGregor taking turns with a microphone to talk at each other to an audience. They weren’t interested in dialogue, only in pressing their thoughts to the audience in the face of the other. I’m certain it was more show than substance. Now think about settings you have been in where you felt talked TO, instead of talked WITH. How about situations where you have been the person who was doing the talking?
This is the complexity of Professional Presence (P2). Are you influencing others as you would like? Are you comfortable planning and discussing the future of your department, or whole organization? Are you ready to deepen your leadership skills with practice and play of new skills? These are all signs you want to elevate your professional presence.