The power of presence is vividly illustrated in theater, where actors must fully embody their characters to convey authenticity and captivate their audience.

In plays like A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams, the character of Blanche DuBois demands a commanding presence to portray her complex emotional journey. This presence involves not just physical visibility but an intense engagement with the character’s inner world and the surrounding environment, allowing the actor to connect deeply with the audience.

Just as actors need to be fully present to deliver compelling performances, leaders must cultivate presence to effectively engage with their teams and navigate the demands of their roles. Presence in leadership involves being fully attentive and engaged in the moment, creating an atmosphere of focus and connection that can inspire and motivate others.

What is “presence?”

Presence, in the context of leadership, refers to the state of being fully engaged and attentive in the current moment. It involves a high level of self-awareness and the ability to connect deeply with others, fostering an environment of mutual respect and understanding.

Presence is characterized by active listening, mindful communication, and a genuine interest in the perspectives and needs of others. Effective presence requires leaders to manage distractions and focus their attention on the task at hand.

This attentiveness allows leaders to respond thoughtfully and authentically to situations, rather than reacting impulsively. By cultivating presence, leaders can enhance their ability to make informed decisions, build strong relationships, and create a positive and productive work environment.

Authentic human leadership

Authentic human leadership relies heavily on presence.

Leaders who are fully present can better understand the needs and concerns of their team members, fostering a culture of trust and collaboration. Presence enables leaders to engage in meaningful interactions, listen actively, and provide thoughtful feedback, all of which are essential for building strong, supportive relationships within the team.

Presence also enhances a leader’s ability to navigate complex and stressful situations with calm and clarity. By maintaining focus and composure, leaders can think more clearly, make better decisions, and provide a steadying influence for their team.

This capacity for mindful engagement is crucial for maintaining a positive and resilient organizational culture.

Furthermore, presence allows leaders to align their actions with their values and principles, reinforcing their authenticity and integrity. By being fully present, leaders can ensure that their behavior is consistent with their beliefs, fostering a sense of trust and respect within the organization. This alignment between words and actions is essential for building credibility and inspiring others to follow.

How coaching helps

Professional Certified Coaches (PCC), credentialed by the International Coaching Federation, play a vital role in helping leaders develop presence. Coaches use a variety of techniques to foster mindfulness and self-awareness, such as guided meditations, reflective exercises, and mindfulness-based stress reduction practices.

These techniques help leaders cultivate a greater awareness of their thoughts and emotions, allowing them to stay focused and present in their interactions.

Coaches also model the core competencies outlined in the ICF PCC Markers, such as maintaining presence, listening actively, and demonstrating empathy. These competencies are essential for effective presence, as they involve being fully engaged and attentive to the needs of others.

By working with a coach, leaders can strengthen these skills and become more present and effective leaders.

Additionally, coaches help leaders integrate presence into their daily routines and interactions. This may involve setting aside time for regular mindfulness practices, practicing active listening and mindful communication in meetings, and seeking feedback from team members.

By making presence a regular part of their leadership practice, leaders can create a more focused and engaged organizational culture.

Let’s connect

I’m an ICF-certified and experienced professional, coaching authentic human leaders with a focus on organizations whose Director+ population is facing complex, nuanced problems. Use this link to schedule a call with me to discuss potential coaching services. You can also email me or message me on LinkedIn.


International Coaching Federation (ICF).

Williams, Tennessee. A Streetcar Named Desire. New Directions Publishing, 2004.