Wednesday, July 19, 2023

"Command Presence"

I once had a colleague, who I admired greatly, be demoted from a vice-president position for lack of "command presence" (his telling of the reason)

And, so what is "command presence" and is it something to strive for? Can it be learned? Can it be taught?

Here's a few ideas on the topic:

It's about personal qualities and behaviors
Command presence refers to a set of qualities and behaviors that encompasses the ability to project confidence, assertiveness, and control over a situation, as well as to inspire respect, trust, and obedience from others.

Perhaps the phrase brings up an image of a military leader. Rightly so. But it's evident wherever leadership and the ability to influence others are important.

Is it "command and control" dressed up to be more palatable? It can be, but it shouldn't be. Command presence can be felt effectively in horizontal organizations as well as more vertical structures.
Judge for yourself as you read on:

You've got it when you've got:

Confidence: In a project situation, individuals with command presence exude a sense of self-assuredness and belief in their abilities, bordering on arrogance. They display confidence in their decision-making, communication, and problem-solving skills, which if directed toward objectives understood by all,  helps to instill trust and reassurance in others.

Calmness under pressure: Command presence involves the ability to remain composed and level-headed in challenging and stressful situations. 

Assertiveness: Command presence requires individuals to assert their authority and communicate their expectations clearly and firmly. 
Saying "no to power" is often part of the job jar. So is picking your moments to say 'yes'.

Individuals make decisions decisively, without hesitation, and are not easily swayed by external pressures. Of course, that can be borderline stubbornness, but one can be assertive and still be convinced by new evidence (Bayesian thinking) 

Physical and vocal presence: This is not about the big-guy small-guy syndrome. And it's not about being the verbal bully in the room. Be aware of your non-verbal cues which play a significant role in command presence. Maintain an upright but casual posture without being rigid, maintain eye contact, and use strong and confident body language. Speak with a clear and authoritative voice, commanding attention and conveying a sense of purpose.

Knowledge and expertise: Leaders with command presence possess a high level of knowledge, skill, and experience in their field. But, at the same time, they are respected for their respect of others who have the expertise in the moment.

Respect and empathy: While command presence requires a certain level of assertiveness, it is important for leaders to also demonstrate respect and empathy towards their subordinates. By showing understanding and consideration for others' perspectives, leaders can foster a positive environment and build stronger relationships.

Can it be learned? Can it be taught?
Yes, and yes
Developing command presence is a lifelong journey.
It's a learning exercise that involves honing one's communication skills, emotional intelligence, self-confidence, and expertise. 

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