Wize Communications

How to have leadership presence


Great leaders possess gravitas. They convey authority and presence and their impact is felt when they just step foot into a room. Imagine the presence of the great Mohammed Ali, President Obama or Brene Brown. Their presence, authority and gravitas is undeniable and

is a significant factor in their rise to huge success – especially against the odds that they faced in terms of race and prejudice. Many of us gaze at these prominent individuals and wonder how they possess the elusive X factor, and wonder what it is about them that gives them the added edge.

The interesting thing is that when we analyse and dissect the behaviour of inspirational leaders who have made or make an impact whether in the corporate world, politics or society, we find that there are some astonishing similarities between each of them in terms of their body language, vocal presence and personality.

Confident, comfortable Body language.
Firstly, impactful leaders reflect gravitas in their body language. They hold a good straight, upright but relaxed posture, and inspire confidence in those around them. Having a straight back, not only looks visually impressive but it also reflects confidence in oneself and shouts a person who is in command of themselves and potentially others. What’s more, it shows an individual who is ready for action, someone who is alert and on the ball, and that is what all leaders need to be. In the same manner, a slouched posture, a hunched back and one that is not relaxed on upright, sends across the opposite signals. If you look at great leaders past and present from the military world, through to politics, corporate orin the celebrity circuit, those that stand out always have that straight, confident and upright presence.

Another body language trait they commonly possess is that of taking up space. Confident leaders do not hesitate to use their hands and often deliver sweeping hand gestures,. They are also comfortable taking up space around them whether walking around, sitting down or whatever the situation maybe. Unlike their more nervous and introverted counterparts, they do not fidget, keep their hands in their pockets or muffle or shuffle nervously around the room, signalling that their presence is limited and trying to make themselves invisible. When you take up space, you are showing others you are bold commanding and feel deserving.

As a leader in your organisation, developing a stronger body presence will go along way to adding to your authority and executive presence. However, bad habits take time to break, and new habits take time before they accelerate. So, to build a better posture, the first thing is to be aware of where you need to improve and the most effective and simples ways to move forward towards your goal. First identify how much your posture needs correcting and possible seating scenarios that might be aggravating your posture currently. The second step is to identify easy ways that you can get your posture back on track. What posture building activity are you realisitcally likely to stick to, perhaps pilates or yoga class, or using a posture fixing belt. Think of which of these you are most likely to enjoy and stick to and make sure you can slot it into the routine each week.

Great leaders also possess another trait that gives them a competitive advantage over their peers, and that is a strong vocal presence. When I think of Oprah or Obama, I immediately hear the sound of their voice. Its strong, rich, purposeful, balanced and clear. They energise others by being energised themselves and speaking with energy. They exert more energy from their stomach and throat when emitting sound which is why they are louder and heard by others. They also vary their vocal pitch. There is nothing quite so dull than hearing a monotone voice that could easily send you to sleep. Leaders with gravitas have expression, emphasis and emotion in their voice and this highlights specific words, sentences and emotions they wish to convey. Most of these leaders are likely to have been raised in a family, with peers or in an environment where they learnt to speak above others or had to speak up to be heard and listened to. As a leader, you do not want to be loud and overbearing, but if you have a low, hesitant vocal presence, then it is time to top it up a notch and start saying what you need to say. Here’s three ways that you can improve your vocal presence starting from today.

a)The first way to boost the volume of your voice is measure your volume on an app called….
b)Once you have measured your voice, find a range that works best for you and ask for feedback from friends and peers. Then when you are speaking at home and with friends, just keep practicing to speak at the right pitch until it becomes comfortable for you.
c)Another factor that helps in keeping ones voice pitch perfect is to place yourself in environments and around people that speak loud. You will naturally have to acclimatise in their presence to speak at a greater volume…..


A growing expectations of leaders in our current time in the corporate world and in large scale businesses and organisations, is that leaders have a more democratic approach to their employees rather than an autocratic style of leadership. This is becoming increasingly important with more remote working and the demands of a younger workforce to have their well being and personal aspirations recognised by the leadership of corporations that they work for. Leader of corporations and those in senior positions are increasingly under pressure today to find a balance between the personal and professional. But being personable does not by any means imply can that one cannot be professional. It is just about having humanity, emotional intelligence, and keeping in thought your impact on your staff.

If as a leader in your organisation, you struggle to be personable, the best way to start is by smiling more often. Not only does this facial curve upgrade our levels of endorphins but it also a welcome signal to others to approach you, and is a facial hello. It also will encourage your staff and teams to behave friendly towards you which kick starts a positive ripple effect. Smiling, being kind and interested in others as well as sharing some info about yourself is the perfect way to develop a personable presence with your staff and to break down the barriers of distance and superiority that leaders traditionally have possessed and maintained.

So, to be an inspiring leader in our current times, is to be more humane, to be more in touch and to be the peoples leader. It is about striking a good balance between competence, authority and being warm, personable, real and authentic. This is the future of leadership in our times.

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