Power is simply the perception of your ability to affect the world around you and consequently an important element of leadership and a component of executive presence.
The word ‘Power’ may have taken on a negative connotation for you, probably due to bosses who have abused their power. However, a leader who understands their power will enter any situation, problem or conversation confident in their skills and ability to influence in a positive way.
A leader who is comfortable with their power exudes presence and demands attention effortlessly. A leader who respects their power treats others mindfully with full knowledge that they can easily lift people up or they can knock people down.
Power is often associated with rank but many times power is generated by your inner mindset and body language in the absence of designated or legitimate power.
The biggest obstacle to powerful presence is a lack of confidence that is fuelled by negative self-talk and self-criticism. Imposter syndrome is now known to affect both men and women, though more research has been undertaken on the impact of imposter syndrome on female executives.
If you believe you don’t really deserve your leadership position or feel you will be found to be incapable of your role, then naturally you will be more hesitant to be overtly bold or decisive. You will constantly be second-guessing your judgment or intuition. Indecisive and shrinking does not create a powerful presence and will not be perceived as strong leadership by your followers.
Becoming aware of your limiting beliefs is the first step, followed by understanding why your mind is creating these beliefs, understanding the role of distorted thinking and then rewriting a new internal dialogue that propels you forward rather than holds you back.
Mindset is informed partly by your body language. A powerful presence claims space in the room. You can feel the presence of a great leader. They own their space.
You can use your body language to intentionally claim space. For example, taking a wide, open stance, expressing yourself fully with movement, not protecting or shrinking through arm-folding or slouching. For a more in-depth discussion of body language and presence see the work by Amy Cuddy.
Your body language is not only speaking to other people but is sending feedback to your brain, letting you know whether you are feeling confident or afraid. The more you practice a confident body language the more you brain will interpret this to mean you are confident, which in turn is reflected in more openness and ‘taking space’. It is a self-fulfilling cycle.
Take note today on whether you are projecting a powerful presence. If power is the perception of your ability to affect the world around you, you cannot hope to be perceived by your people as a commanding leader if you don’t believe in your own ability to affect your world, and thus their world.
Kim Adams is a leadership mindset consultancy helping organisations and their people achieve improved focus, better performance, higher engagement and greater wellbeing. Her vision is to empower people to trust in their unique strengths and to be successful on their terms.
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