The Weekend Herald (14.4.18) featured an interview with a prominent chairman of private and public boards who has extensively researched and taught leadership. He said that in appointing a new leader his criteria include ‘They should not have an ego’. This raises the questions of why have such a criterion and how can we measure it?
In most organisations most people aren’t as present and therefore not as effective as they could be. To varying levels, they are constricted and tied up in the knot of their ego rather than expansive and able to identify, loosen and disengage their ego patterns. Increasing leadership presence enables leaders and those they work with to experience more success and satisfaction, have more positive impact on others, be more mindful, increase emotional intelligence and enjoy greater ease, flexibility, responsiveness, receptivity, freedom and choice.
An explanation of presence is offered by the Pink Floyd song ‘Wish You Were Here’. When attending the Pink Floyd Exhibition in London last September I came across a handwritten page from the graphic designer and music video director Storm Thorgerson. Storm wrote that the song title ‘Wish You Were Here’ reflected the band’s wish relating initially to their founding member Syd Barrett whose mental breakdown had forced him to leave the group. However, the song ‘became more universal, more about unfulfilled presence in general…The notion of a presence not really there…The devices employed psychologically by persons to withhold the full force of their presence and their motivations for doing so all boiled down to a single theme – absence’.
Participants at a Leadership Presence course I co-facilitated this week at The University of Auckland had previously taken the Leadership Styles Inventory (LSI) which shows the extent to which they exhibit ‘Passive’ and/or ‘Aggressive’ vs. ‘Constructive’ Styles. Leaders with more Constructive Styles are more ‘Self-Actualising’, ‘Humanistic-Encouraging’, ‘Affiliative’ and experience higher levels of ‘Achievement’ all of which can be equated to and developed by leadership presence. Another tool we use, and that I have certified to teach, is the Enneagram that includes a system for measuring ‘Levels of Development’ that the pioneers of this approach Riso and Hudson describe ‘as a measure of our capacity to be present’.
Leaders and organisations with higher levels of presence are better able to fulfil their missions and to make more money and more of a difference. In not fulfilling their potential, leaders and organisations are incurring a big cost by not making the money and not making the difference that they could be. This opportunity cost is far higher than most realise – those that are awake to this cost are increasingly including presence in their criterion for recruiting and developing leaders. investing in leadership development that focuses on developing presence.
Important questions for us all to consider are what is our level of presence and what can we do to increase our presence and more fully be here now?