It seems as though anything I would offer here regarding leadership presence would really restate what Halpern and Lubar (2003) have succinctly expressed in their PRES model of leadership presence. Yet, I will attempt to share my thoughts and experiences with the concept of leadership presence. Apparently, I developed these skills throughout my career without knowing it as a formal concept. I attribute this learning to several different factors – yoga, social work and ministry education, personal spiritual devotion. I didn’t learn the techniques as one coherent concept. But the result is the same. Defined by Halpern and Lubar (2003) as “the ability to connect authentically with the thoughts and feelings of others”, leadership presence is an outgrowth of being tuned into one’s higher values as it relates to being in positive relationship with oneself and others. Effective leadership presence improves organizations, institutions and relationships. I believe it also can improve one’s personal relationships as well.
The PRES model of leadership presence entails the skills of being present, reaching out, expressiveness and self-knowing (Halpern & Lubar, 2003). In order to be present, one must learn how to control one’s physiological response to fear, quiet negative self-talk and be flexibly responsive to the current context. One learns how to keep one’s wits about them; thereby allowing them to respond to others rather than protecting oneself from perceived danger. A leader’s ability to remain present in a work environment will certainly benefit productivity and employee relations. But these skills cannot be compartmentalized to the workplace situations only.
I immediately thought of leadership presence when I learned I would be worship leader upon my arrival at the faith community where I serve on a recent Sunday morning. The role of worship leader is to engage the congregation in the service so that they become active participants rather than just spectators. My comfort zone is to know well in advance, so I can imagine what I would say and do at just the appropriate moment. However, I led the congregation through the worship service without nervousness. Several congregants verbally affirmed my leading at the end of service. I discovered I was my authentic self – no small feat given that I am relatively new to my role as associate minister in this congregation. The congregation where I previously served has a different style of worship which is much more similar to my own personal style.
Leadership presence by any other name is still leadership presence. Hedges’ i-Pres model (2012) is similar to Halpern and Lubar’s (2003) work. She introduces the idea of intentionality in developing the relationships needed for leadership presence to be successful. Intentionality in leadership presence is my growth opportunity. Now that I have a name and a framework for the concept, I can be purposeful in my use of the skills.
Hedges, K. (2012). The Power of Presence. New York, NY: Amacom.
Halpern, B. L., & Lubar, K. (2003). Leadership presence: Dramatic techniques to reach out, motivate, and inspire. New York, NY: Gotham Books.