Presence is one of the trickiest skills to put into action because it’s not something you can develop overnight. Simply put, presence is when your absence is noticed, you can command attention (when necessary) and respect.
But despite what many people think, this doesn’t mean that you have to be militant with your team or strike fear in anyone’s heart. Remember, being a great leader also means being approachable. Presence is about making people listen to and respect your opinion.
So here’s the real question… what can you do to develop your presence? Here are some practical tips to help you do just that.
First, understand that there is a time and place to separate the personal from professional. There will be occasions that require you to be more assertive (and equally, there will be times that you don’t need to put your foot down at all). Finding a happy balance between this and your relaxed tone is key to improving your presence.
Being assertive doesn’t come naturally to everyone. But most of the time, this stems from the idea that assertiveness is a trait to be frowned upon. It’s too aggressive, too forceful and not a characteristic many people want to adopt. And this perception is the mistake.
Start considering being assertive as a means of helping your team. If you can see that a valid point is being overlooked, and could potentially lead to more issues in the future, then speak up. Don’t just let difficult topics slide because that’s the easier option. Do the right thing—because your opinion matters.
Presence is about much more than the way that you speak to people. Respect also contributes to your professional presence and this stems from your ability to put a stamp on your role. Remember that your value comes from contributing to your organisation’s success.
So ask yourself: if I wasn’t here, would my team be as efficient? Would there be someone that can just take over my responsibilities? Am I really making a difference? These questions will determine whether you’re making changes or just keeping the cogs turning.
Always look for new ways to develop and add value to your department, team and overall mission statement. The more knowledge that you have, the more weight you can carry and ultimately the more your team will consider you as a true treasure.
Relationships are important in any industry. But if you’re working in a sector like non-profit, the way you relate and connect with people can speak volumes about your character (both personally and professionally).
True, not everyone is an extrovert, and we’re not saying you have to be friends with all of your colleagues. But if you are the sort of employee or leader that supports your team, then they’ll think more highly of you.
Connect with other people in your industry and make yourself part of a larger conversation about where your sector is heading. The more people you know, the more you can contribute to the future growth of your organisation. And it may mean more responsibility and opportunity for career growth done the line.
It’s very easy to fall into the trap of being complacent when you become used to going through your day-to-day tasks. Everything falls into a normal pattern and you’re no longer prepared for the unexpected (which as many of you probably know, can rear its ugly head anytime).
Proactively thinking ahead is a measure that not only gives you the time to work around any struggles that crop up, it also enhances your presence. You’re more than a problem-solver; you’re a preventer and going the extra mile to put processes in place to nip difficult situations in the bud is invaluable.
So take the time to develop these skills and work on your professional presence. It’s not a quick task, but it’s one that will establish you in your career (and trust us, the results will definitely be worth it).
Think we’ve missed anything from the list? Share your thoughts on how to develop your professional presence in the comments section below!
This post was originally published in 2017 and has been updated to ensure relevance and to reflect the current job seeker experience.