Presence

Have you ever seen that woman at work who captures everyone’s attention?  She has that air of confidence when she talks and she commands a room when she’s in it. In meetings, she’s respected by both men and women, even if they don’t agree with her, because she has a way of delivering her message as business input, not opinions. She’s put together and she sits at the table in meetings.  She has presence.

There’s another woman that you see at the playground with her kids or the sports field at a game.  She’s engaged in their actions, she’s not on her phone checking her emails. She may not be on the swings or coaching, but she has a smile on her face watching her kids.  She has the same emails piling up and list of things that need to get done as the women next to her on her phone, but she knows that these windows of time are her chance to be there for her kids.  She has presence too.

There are very few words that can define something so critical to both your career and your work life balance, but presence is one of them. Presence is not something that we think a lot about, but we should. It’s a powerful skill and a key part of being an effective leader, but also can be used to make your work life balance successful and fulfilling.

For over twenty years as a Human Resources and business leader I have watched women with presence become successful.  Whether it’s in a job interview, delivering a sales pitch or participating in a meeting, they know that presence is part of their success and a skill that they must possess. I have been on the other side of conversations behind closed doors, where capable women have been overlooked because they don’t have it. Missed opportunities, dismissed for bigger jobs and not seen as capable as they truly are.  Lack of presence can stall your career.

Women who struggle to have balance in their personal lives lose precious time if they aren’t able to be present in the time that they do have for themselves and their family.  Being present can make one hour of time as meaningful as ten and can make you feel great about the time you do have in your personal life, not the time you don’t.

Presence is hard to create and takes constant work to keep, but interestingly, you have time to practice it every week in your job and personal life.  Here are three tips to develop your presence and make it a skill that you can put in your working women tool box:

  1. Tell a boss or trusted mentor that you are working on developing your presence.  What are some things that you can do to improve this skill?
  2. Look for women that demonstrate presence both inside and outside the workplace.  Ask them how they do it. Are there any mantras they use, rules they live by, classes they have taken or tips they can share?
  3. Practice presence.  With any skill, it gets better with repetition.  Work at it and you will see this skill develop.

Thank you to all of the women who show us what presence is all about.  You continue to pave the way and inspire working women like us to be the best we can be.

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