12 Steps to Power Presence: How to Assert Your Authority to Lead

12 Steps to Power Presence: How to Assert Your Authority to Lead

by John Baldoni


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Are leaders born, or made? And what's the single most important quality a real leader should possess? Philosophers and management theorists have endlessly debated-and just as endlessly written about-these subjects for centuries. Finally, here's a book that cuts to the chase.

In 68 of the most succinct, no-punches-pulled pages you'll ever read, acclaimed author-speaker-coach John Baldoni maintains that "leadership presence" is a form of communication that can be learned, and then provides the hows and the whys of learning it.

He starts by defining what genuine leadership presence is, and discusses right and wrong ways to demonstrate leadership taken from real-life examples. Baldoni explains how to communicate your objectives in ways that encourage people to buy into the process-even if it includes tough subjects like layoffs, closures, and terminations. Along the way he adds some provocative comments on the importance of ethical actions in tough times as well as good-including why merely thinking good thoughts and voicing good intentions are never enough.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780814416914
Publisher: AMACOM
Publication date: 04/06/2010
Pages: 68
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.14(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

JOHN BALDONI, president of Baldoni Consulting LLC, is an internationally recognized executive coach, speaker, and author. In 2011, Leadership Gurus International ranked John No. 11 on its list of the world's top 30 leadership experts. He is a regular online contributor to CBS MoneyWatch, Inc, and Harvard Business Review.

Read an Excerpt



LEADERS PROJECT POWER through their presence.

You can define leadership presence as the presence of authority imbued with a reason to believe. What matters to us most is authenticity. That cannot be faked, but it can be amplified.

Leadership presence is more than style, more than communications.

It is the projection of the leader’s authentic self. That authenticity is made up of a person’s beliefs and convictions and reinforced by behavior. That is, it’s not “talking the talk” that matters, it’s “walking the walk” that makes the difference. It is what leaders do to convince people to believe in them as people and as leaders.

Leadership presence is the outward manifestation of leadership behavior. While leaders project their leadership, followers authorize it with their approval. Leadership presence is “earned authority.” Those two words are important. Earned means you have led by example. Authority means you have the power to lead others. While organizations confer management roles, it is up to the leader to prove himself or herself by getting others to follow his or her lead. A leader must earn the right to lead others. Title is conferred; leadership is earned.

While leaders project power through presence, it is followers who authorize it with their approval.

Consider these examples:

• The plant manager who holds meetings on the shop floor to be close to the work

• The school principal who walks down the hallway greeting by name the children, who grin and send him a cheerful greeting

• The military officer who stays with his troops when the action gets hot and provides a voice of calm when all hell breaks loose

• The coach who shows players how to play the game right and in the process demonstrates what it means to succeed in school and in the community

• The research director who asks questions to stimulate new lines of inquiry and genuinely listens to responses

• The quarterback who steps into the huddle and has every player look to him not only for the play but also for direction

• The mayor who holds weekly meetings with staff directors and encourages them to present their ideas about how best to serve the city

• The CEO who works in an open-plan office and eats in the cafeteria so she can stay in touch with people and listen to their concerns as well as their ideas

You can think of many more examples from your own life.

Whichever example you consider, it is important to understand that just as leadership is a reflection of earned authority, leadership presence, which enhances the leadership moment, is derived from the support of others. It cannot be assumed through birth or heritage, though many kings and queens have acted as if they have it and don’t. Leadership presence is a form of communication and as such can be taught and put into practice.

Some of us have presence; others must develop it.

Watch how leaders we admire carry themselves. See how they enter a room and engage other people. Look at how they interact with others, both above and below them in rank and authority.

Watch how they build coalitions and are able to get things done.

Often such leaders are the ones who tackle the impossible tasks and somehow get them done. How? It is because they have created a strong team of people who believe in themselves and their mission and will do whatever it takes to get things done right.

Leadership presence, the power to lead, does not come automatically with rank. While many CEOs and generals may hold heavy titles and their presence may seem lofty, the proof of their leadership is in what they accomplish. People get put into high positions and often don’t succeed, a phenomenon documented by

Dr. Laurence J. Peter in his 1969 book The Peter Principle.1 Such failures often stem from a lack of leadership presence. These managers fail to build rapport with their people. They assume it is “my way or the highway” and do not accept the counsel or opinions of others.

One of the clearest indicators of leadership presence is the silence that occurs between leader and follower. No pomp. No circumstance.

Just being there. This leadership presence occurs on the factory floor when a new hire is schooled by a veteran. You find it on the battlefield in the quiet moments between officers and their troops. And you find it in boardrooms when the CEO has the support of her team. No words are spoken. There is a quiet sense of trust that has developed among all parties.

But here’s the key point. While trust is a reciprocal act between leader and follower, it starts with the leader. He must trust his followers by giving them a stake in the enterprise as decision makers and contributors. Followers repay that trust by demonstrating their faith in the leader. That trust contributes to leadership presence in its most pure form and it is something to which all leaders can aspire.

Leadership presence is a powerful attribute of a leader; it amplifies and strengthens a leader’s ability to connect with people he or she must lead.2

Table of Contents



STEP 1: What Is Leadership Presence? 1

STEP 2: Character Counts 7

STEP 3: Five Attributes of Authority 11

STEP 4: Leveraging Power 17

STEP 5: Be Decisive 21

STEP 6: Be Straight with People 25

STEP 7: Appearance Does Matter 31

STEP 8: Instill Pride of Purpose 35

STEP 9: To Lead Is To Assert 39

STEP 10: Projecting Hope and Optimism 43

STEP 11: Coaching Your Boss 49

STEP 12: Promote Yourself 53



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