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What is the single most valuable quality that leaders are seeking through executive coaching? I call it leadership presence, also referred to as agile, mindful, creative, integral, teal and/or conscious leadership.

This leadership quality is essential in this decade if businesses and organizations are to meet the global challenges we face. Businesses must be able to pivot quickly in response to rapid changes. Looking at the current fragility of our economic, government and environmental systems, we know that most organizations will need to undergo deep adaptations. We need leaders who can be clear, purposeful and confident while staying open and flexible.

Sky above. Earth below. Peace within.

Photo by Samuel Austin

What is leadership presence?

  • The capacity to maintain presence of mind in challenging conditions.
  • The charisma to share sincerely and passionately, connecting people to a purpose and eliciting their support, motivation and engagement.
  • Confidence, conviction and trust that is grounded in a complex and paradoxical reality.
  • A core requirement for success in times of deep adaptation.
  • The essence of agile leadership.

“It’s an emergency. We need to slow down.”

An agile leader has the courage to slow down in order to gather information and sense what is happening: to become fully conscious. With this presence of mind, a leader can respond quickly and decisively even as events unfold in unpredictable patterns. A conscious leader stays aware of intuitions and emotions without losing rational judgment. They have access to more information and are more open and receptive to feedback. A leader with presence takes action based on the current reality as sensed, rather than only repeating patterns that have worked in the past. A conscious leader attracts and retains other conscious leaders thus attaining the capacity to create highly effective organizations.

Leadership presence is sometimes seen as a magical, ineffable quality that cannot be developed. Or else it is seen a set of behaviours that can be learned and then manufactured through appearances alone. In fact, leadership presence comes from the inner ability to be fully present in the moment while staying connected to the feeling sense. This is a capacity available to almost anyone who is willing to practice. It is not something that can be learned with the intellect alone. It must be practiced and embodied as a complex set of skills that are an authentic expression of the leader’s personality.

In your role as a leader, whether in the workplace or with your family or community, how well do you stay present to the challenges you face?

In the next article, I will describe the process for developing leadership presence.