12 Habits for Building Leadership Presence

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Leadership is about making others better because of your presence. When someone looks at you, they should be able to gain confidence; they should be inspired to be more than they are.

But how do you know if you have the presence to even influence another? Here are some of the elements that make up a leadership presence.

1. Develop your character: Your character should never be silent. It needs to have a voice that reflects your heart and soul. When you lead with character, you give the essence of your identity.

2. Mind your attitude: Your attitude as a leader influences those around you, whether it’s negative or positive. It will be felt by those around you more quickly than your actions. A great leadership presence is practiced not so much in words as in attitudes and in actions.

3. Everything you wear has an expression: How you look and how you dress are important. Appearances make the first impression, so make sure your outward appearance reflects who you are inwardly. Don’t put on pretenses; the aim is to represent yourself authentically and appropriately.

4. Respect is the presence of everything: Great leaders build presence by practicing respect in three ways: respect for self, respect for others, and responsibility for actions. Without respect and responsibility true leadership presence is impossible.

5. Master competency: Great leaders they don’t end up telling people what they know but showing them how it is done. You have to be proficient in your field and an expert with your skills to have a presence in your leadership.

6. Cultivate communication: You need the skills to inform others, engage with others, and advise others in a clear and concise way that can be implemented and followed. The art of communication is the language of leadership.

7. Pay attention, your body is speaking. People may not always tell you how they feel, but they will always show you what they are thinking—you just have to pay attention to their presence. Body language sends clear message, even when people aren’t speaking. Make sure your own body language is consistent with what you say; don’t contradict yourself.

8. Emotional intelligence. Intelligence is important, but emotional intelligence matters more. It gives you the ability to understand yourself and others, a critical component of creating presence.

9. Accountability is your responsibility: To have presence is to accept responsibility for your actions and be accountable for your results. Without accountability there is no presence in leadership. This is your leadership and you are 100 percent responsible for it, so be accountable.

10. Motivation comes from within:  A true leadership presence motivates and inspires others—to take initiative, to walk toward, a common purpose, and to work together to accomplish tasks and to achieve goals. Be close enough to relate but be far enough to keep people moving forward.

11. Integrity is always the purpose: Some people think leadership is all about power, but actually it is all about having integrity. Having integrity means choosing your thoughts and actions based on your values and not on your personal gain. The supreme leadership quality is unquestionably integrity.

12. Reputation builds perception: When you have a leadership presence, it becomes a central part of your reputation. When your reputation is built on your character, it’s who you really are that defines how others see you.

If you don’t yet have the leadership presence you want, keep working through these 12 elements until you have discovered the influence that belongs to you.

Lead from Within: Presence is much more than just being there, it’s about adding value and making a difference for yourself and those around you.



N A T I O N A L   B E S T S E L L E R
The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness

After decades of coaching powerful executives around the world, Lolly Daskal has observed that leaders rise to their positions relying on a specific set of values and traits. But in time, every executive reaches a point when their performance suffers and failure persists. Very few understand why or how to prevent it.

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Photo Credit: Getty Images

Lolly Daskal is one of the most sought-after executive leadership coaches in the world. Her extensive cross-cultural expertise spans 14 countries, six languages and hundreds of companies. As founder and CEO of Lead From Within, her proprietary leadership program is engineered to be a catalyst for leaders who want to enhance performance and make a meaningful difference in their companies, their lives, and the world.

Of Lolly’s many awards and accolades, Lolly was designated a Top-50 Leadership and Management Expert by Inc. magazine. Huffington Post honored Lolly with the title of The Most Inspiring Woman in the World. Her writing has appeared in HBR, Inc.com, Fast Company (Ask The Expert), Huffington Post, and Psychology Today, and others. Her newest book, The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness has become a national bestseller.

  1. Bob Vanourek

    07. Jun, 2016

    Another set of insightful wisdom. Thank you, Lolly.

    Reply to this comment
  2. eleanor

    11. Jun, 2016

    Words of wisdom, thank you Lolly

    Reply to this comment
  3. eleanor

    11. Jun, 2016

    Words of wisdom. I enjoy reading your articles and Im getting educated everyday. Thanks Lolly

    Reply to this comment
  4. Bill Dufour

    11. Jun, 2016

    Thanks again for some well needed advice on leading people and doing it correctly.

    Reply to this comment
  5. Ronquavias D Banks

    11. Jun, 2016

    This is awesome! Thank you for sharing.

    Reply to this comment
  6. Pintu Dutta

    12. Jun, 2016

    Useful information

    Reply to this comment
  7. Randy Fisher

    13. Jun, 2016

    So much truth here. Young leaders especially need to focus on the character development and appearance advice.

    Reply to this comment
  8. Santosh Kanekar

    13. Jun, 2016

    The importance of presence came to my life many years ago when my mentor once said to me “You need to be aware of the impact you have on people.” I had no clue what he meant by that and when he explained I realized the depth of that statement.

    As leaders, we are always communicating even when we are silent. You brought about the point of even they way you dress communicates.

    I loved the way you have given a step by step way of understanding and increase our presence in an authentic way.

    You always stress being aware and being connected from the heart, and this has come out so beautifully in this post.

    Being aware and being authentic is the best way leaders can be in touch with their emotions and those around them.

    I remember a statement which one of my coaches once said: “Leadership is what people say about you when you are not around.” Your point about authenticity and reputation builds this point.

    Reply to this comment
  9. Sanjay J. Rakecha

    14. Jun, 2016

    Very important Info

    Reply to this comment
  10. Sanjay J. Rakecha

    14. Jun, 2016

    Nicely presented

    Reply to this comment

    14. Jun, 2016

    ‘Reputation builds perception’…
    great sharing Lolly…always looking forward to your articles. inspiring ..words of wisdom

    Reply to this comment
  12. Keryl

    18. Jun, 2016

    What do you do when despite all actions to demonstrate integrity, professionalism, code of conduct and ethicsyou are working in an environment where there has been so much harm that toxicity, white anting and gossip continues to pervade the office culture which continues to keep people trapped in old operational paradigms. Leadership is influenced by the entire system which is in crisis.

    Reply to this comment

    22. Jun, 2016

    Each and every statement you make, is effective and intelligent. Thanks a million for enriching my life.

    Reply to this comment
  14. Edna F. Wilson

    28. Jun, 2016

    Thank you for sharing such a great article. I really enjoyed reading this article. A leader always should have multi-dimensional traits, which should be appealing as well as one should get some positive vibes after looking at you.
    I recently attended a seminar by some respected celebrity speakers in Australia who also shared some qualities that a leader should always have.

    Reply to this comment
  15. Rachel Frampton

    12. Feb, 2020

    Type your comment here…I’m planning to put up a business of my own that deals with selling statement shirts, but the problem is, how am I going to lead my future staff if I lack leadership presence. I guess you’re right; I have to be more proficient in my field and skilled enough to have a presence in my leadership. Maybe, hiring a talent development service can help me hone my skills further.

    Reply to this comment
    • lollydaskal

      12. Feb, 2020

      The best way to help you manifest your leadership presence, if you don’t think you have it, is to hire a leadership coach who can guide you along the way and help you skip over the mistakes that many first time leaders make.

      Reply to this comment

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