Leading with Presence
Driving to an appointment the other day, I went to make a right turn and couldn’t help but notice the people in each of the cars lined up waiting to turn left. One woman had a forlorn expression, and her head drooped over her steering wheel. The woman in the car behind her revealed a smile and an upward glance that seemed full of joy and anticipation. The face of the man in the car behind her was twisted up and his shoulders appeared to be close to his ears. His eyes were locked onto his blackberry, which he held in his free hand.
I smiled as I realized that I could relate to each of these people. I could have been any of them at any given time. And then the thought occurred to me that I could be any one of them as the day progressed. Which would I choose? The answer to that question could very well determine the quality of my entire day, and could also quite likely impact the quality of the day of those around me as well.
Every once in a while when I go out running I see a little old man riding a beach cruiser. In the dawn hours, as the sun begins to rise above the horizon, the light on his handlebars shines brightly. He is kind of a round man with short, fuzzy white hair and bright blue eyes. He pedals his bicycle so slowly that it is a wonder they both don’t just fall over. But what is most striking about him is that he is always smiling.
Every time I see this man, rain or shine, it seems he has something to be happy about. And his smile isn’t just the polite grin that people often flash as they enter each other’s space. It is the kind that comes from a deep satisfaction and wonderment with life. The little light on his bicycle shines brightly at the crack of dawn, but the radiance around him is even more vibrant. I find myself hoping to see him on my morning runs and experiencing a wave of joy and delight every time I do – feeling lighter and happier just for the experience of having crossed his path. His presence alone is truly inspiring.
I think emanating a positive presence is one of the most crucial things leaders can do for people. And to have this kind of influence and effect on others, you don’t have to have a fancy title, a bunch of people reporting to you, or even be a part of an organization at all. People pick up, consciously and subconsciously on the energy we emanate – and for better or worse, those we spend a lot of time around will often align themselves with it. True leaders – in any setting or vocation – are consciously aware of the tone they set through their own presence. They use it to uplift and inspire others, seeing the brilliance of everyone and everything around them and always reflecting it back.
I wonder whether that little man on the beach cruiser has any idea of how profoundly he has affected me. And I wonder if you realize the effect you can have on the lives of everyone around you as well… maybe without even having to say a word.
“We can do more good by being good, than in any other way.”
~ Rowland Hill
Implications for Real Leaders
The Real Leader Revolution is bringing to a head the need for businesses to better tap the power and potential that exists within the people who are the lifeblood of their organizations. This energy, when properly catalyzed and harnessed, will create the kind of value that earns loyal customers, increased market share and strong, sustainable profitability.
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