This fall, I attended the Fast Company Innovation Festival, and had the privilege of listening to innovative leaders from across industries and professions, such as CEO of The Daily Beat @HeatherDietrick and Nieman Marcus Head of Innovation @KatieMullen. Among the insights that resonated with me were these:
1) Find your voice
2) Give others the opportunity to do the same, and
3) Embrace the possibilities.
All of this reinforced for me something that has always been near and dear to my heart — something that I have worked hard to improve over time (still working on it!) as the founder of my own firm Notion Consulting and something I always coach others to do as well – own your power and presence!
What does it mean to own your power in presence? It means that you know how to find and elevate your own personal power, and you know how to use it to strengthen your presence with others.
How To Find and Elevate Your Power
First, recognize that power can be a good thing. Many people have negative perceptions of power and conflate power with oppression. But it’s important to reframe power as something that helps create energy and lift, and helps you move beyond traditional expectations. What’s more, power can be used as a force for good, to inspire others and move them to action.
Second, figure out the source of your power and tap into it. For example, do you get your power from your knowledge, energy, or maybe in your ability to connect with others? You must ground yourself in that source of power and practice accessing it quickly. I’ve recognized that my personal power at work comes from my high energy, experience, and compassion for others. I have learned, through practice, how to boost others up with my enthusiasm, impart wisdom in a thoughtful and non-judgmental way, and show empathy and compassion to people who are having a rough time. All of us can improve on these skills, of course, but the better we understand our personal sources of power, the more we can build on them.
Third, explore your own ‘power blockers’ and create strategies to address those blockers. Is it fear, anxiety, self-doubt, time, skills? What gets in your way and how can you address it? For example, when I get mired in self-doubt, I turn to a trusted colleague or friend and simply say it. Sometimes the act of admitting to a blocker helps minimize its impact, and it allows me to brainstorm with a friend about how to get past it.
How to Strengthen Your Presence with Others
Understand what presence really means by looking around for role models. People who have presence are people who are great at commanding respect and inspiring others, and people who speak with poise and clarity. They also tend to genuinely like and build up the people around them, and project confidence.
Reflect on your strengths and areas for improvement when it comes to presence. As you study these role models, think about your own presence in comparison. Start with your strengths – what kinds of things do you do or say, or how do you show up for others, in a similar way? Then consider the qualities your role model possesses that you need to work toward, and note the mechanics of those qualities. For example, what, specifically does your role model say that inspires respect? How, specifically, does she make meaningful connections with people around her? By really listening and observing others, you will begin to understand what it takes to improve your own presence.
Practice, practice, practice. Practice challenging yourself to get better – at respect and inspiration, poise and clarity – and true, confident human connection. All of us can improve on our presence, just as all of us can leverage our unique backgrounds and skills to elevate our power and have a more meaningful impact on those around us.
The beginning of the new year is a great time to pause and take stock. In 2020, let us all resolve to own our power and presence, so we can achieve our personal goals, lift up others, and open up new possibilities.