Leadership Presence: How to Get There from Here



  • How are you showing up right now? (0:15)

  • Where you are versus where you want to be (1:05)

  • Can you imagine? (3:05)

  • Walking their walk (4:05)

  • Your turn… (7:00)

Leadership Presence: How to Get There from Here

How are you showing up right now in relation to where you most want to be?

I currently have 22 coaching clients who come from 7 different industries, and this past week, for some reason, my coaching with the majority of them was focused on their desire to be promoted.

I asked each of them about the essence exuded by someone in the position they covet, and it was fascinating to me how what they described was completely out of alignment with the essence that they, themselves, currently exude.

Where You Are Versus Where You Want to Be

For instance, a coaching client seeking a vice president position described how the person they seek to emulate walks into the room – centered, grounded, shoulders back and relaxed, eyes soft, and chin up. However, their own presence is hunched over, eyes cast down, and with a frenetic energy – hurried, disheveled, and incredibly tense.

Another client whose energy is chaotic and overwhelmed, who constantly apologizes to her team for her lack of attention and focus, and who is always commenting on how exhausted she is, described her mentor as consistently paced, even-tempered, and very organized. A leader who is firm and direct but whose smiling eyes light up the room – someone always ready to connect before tackling the challenges ahead.

And yet another client who is very soft-spoken, meek, tentative, and hesitant to take risks described a role model who is direct, clear, and eager to delegate and coach – someone who offers his team opportunities to take calculated risks and learn from the outcomes.

I asked each of my clients to imagine how their current essence and presence would fit if they were seated at a table alongside the role models they described.

Can You Imagine?

Each of them was blown away when they imagined the scene:

  • Hesitant and timid next to bold and direct,

  • Chaotic, scattered, and overwhelmed alongside calm confidence, and

  • Hunched over and self-absorbed from exhaustion next to a connector, a listener, someone who’s ready to delve into challenges head-on.

Clearly, it requires a great deal of effort to even imagine them seated at a table as peers with their role models.

When I asked them about the discrepancies in their presence, each said they just assumed that when they got the promotion that others would see them in the same light that they see their role models.

That’s fascinating.

Walking Their Walk

I gave each of my clients the same homework: Begin spending a few seconds several times per day imagining that you are literally walking in the body of your role model, and then notice, ask, and explore—

  • How does it feel to carry myself in that way?

  • How does my skeletal system shift?

  • How do my eyes change in their softness, in their gaze?

  • How does my pace alter?

  • How does my cadence change?

  • Where do I feel confidence, boldness, and patience?

Why did I ask them to do this type of activity? Because it’s a retraining.

You see, years of striving, being stressed, overwhelmed, exhausted, and chaotic – or years of being timid and withholding – train our bodies to accept these as our comfort zone and the way that we show up.

If you’re thinking of leveling up, moving forward, or showing up differently in the world, then it’s time to recraft yourself – from the inside out.

One of my clients picked Michelle Obama to emulate. As soon as I started describing this practice to my client, I saw her hold her head higher and watched her shoulders go from looking like they were ready to collapse under a weighty burden to looking like they were able to carry the load of the greater good. It was an instant transformation!

A big, wide, and gracious smile appeared on her face, and she said, “Beth! I’m actually smiling. I feel significantly calmer,” and then she laughed out loud.

Another client, who normally is incessantly chatty and full of nervous energy – which has gained her a reputation of trying to grab attention – had a similar experience. She said, “I feel nearly speechless. This is a different kind of calm than I’ve experienced in a long time.”

Your Turn…

So, if you desire a seat at the leadership table, yet your energy and your body language contradict what you see in your role models, it’s time to begin getting your body used to a new carriage and emoting a presence that the people you want to walk among can see, recognize, and identify as leadership.

I want to warn you: This is not a fake-it-until-you-make-it or dress-for-the-part activity. This is a subtle preparation to shift into your authentic leadership presence.

This is you creating connection and alignment peacefully, gracefully, and honestly.

This is you being responsible for the energy that you bring into a room.

Here’s Your Experiment…

I invite you to give this a try and play with it—

  1. For 30 seconds at a time, a few times per day – and for at least 3 weeks – allow your body to feel itself, and to get more comfortable, emulating the stance, the pace, the cadence, and the presence of the role models you are attracted to.

  2. Notice how it feels in your body.

  3. Notice what shifts for you.

I can’t wait to hear how this goes for you and what you learn! I also can’t wait to hear how other people begin to see you.

So, get in touch with me and let me know.

With gratitude,

Beth Wonson & Company