Monthly Archives

April 2012

How to get the X factor of presence

By | Confidence, Success

At the end of last term, it was my daughter’s turn to be the VIP for the week in her reception class.  This is a confidence building strategy which involves the girls being interviewed by the Principal at the front of the class being asked about her family, favorite things, hobbies etc. Parents are invited along, the session is completely documented and then a full wall display including photos and quotes from the VIP is put up in the classroom.  It is truly impressive.

There were two things that really stood out for me.  The first was the process, where everyone, (her teacher, classmates, Principal and us as parents) was asked to contribute by saying what they admire about Charlie.  It was amazing to hear the perceptive things girls at the age of five were contributing. Quite frankly, it floored me. I can only imagine what this does for their self-esteem and confidence. The second thing was what the Principal said about Charlie …… she has presence.  Of all the beautiful things she said, she mentioned ‘presence’ three or four times.  She said that every time she sees or interacts with her, she is struck by the mere presence that she commands in a room or situation.

It got me thinking about this intangible presence and how to get it.

I like to think of it as charisma, the x factor, that something you can’t quite put your finger on.  That feeling when someone who has presence walks into a room and you feel their energy. Put simply, it is that unknown factor or the unexplainable thing, which adds a certain value to that person where you are drawn to listen to what they have to say.

I believe having this presence goes a long way to making a successful Recruiter.  I have seen those who ‘have it’ and those who have had to develop it and the difference in their success can be significant.

When trying to define it with Consultants in the past we have discussed public speakers, sales people, celebrities and people in our own lives to help us get clear on what this presence is and how to develop it.  I think some people are just born with it – and maybe this is already Charlie (think of me when she’s about 15!) and others can develop it and fine-tune it to assist in business meetings, presentations and winning new work.  There is just something about it that makes us want to be around these people and hear what they have to offer.

After a brainstorming session with Consultants on presence and how to get it, a range of ideas came flooding forward and the five main themes included:

  1. Body language – stand tall, look confident, carry yourself in a way that attracts attention. One Consultant mentioned that image is still really important in making a great first impression.
  2. Communication – speak with conviction; be concise and sharp in delivery.  It is rare to be engaged by a waffler!
  3. Listening skills – ability to make everyone feel important and heard.  I’ll never forget my interaction with a particular speaker some years ago. After her talk I went to speak to her, and while I was talking to her, she kept looking right past me to see who was more important in the room that she could be talking to.
  4. Know what you want – be able to lead and control a conversation to stay on track and gain an outcome.  Being clear on your message and what you stand for.
  5. Demonstrate with stories and real examples – people with presence have the experience to back up the theory.  They can easily share a story or re-count examples to demonstrate their point, making it easy to connect with them.

People who have presence inspire, engage and more often than not, educate others in a way that stimulates our thinking and questions the status quo.  As a Recruiter, you need to stand out from the crowd just to be given an opportunity to deliver your presentation.  Presence can be a significant competitive advantage.

Who do you know that has presence and what advantage do you think this gives them?


“We need to talk”……ensure you are heard as a leader

By | Communication, Leadership

This week I got a bill from my Accountant – who I’ve had a long term relationship with (nearly 15 years) that got me rather annoyed and frustrated. I had been charged extra for “email advice” on a “range of issues”.  Did that make my blood boil!  Not because I had been charged – I understand they make money from their knowledge and expertise – but history had told me that this advice from time to time was part of building our relationship.   Now since merging with one of the larger firms, I feel the rules have changed. Again, I don’t necessarily have a problem with this, but where is the communication? At no point has anyone communicated that this ‘casual’ dialogue was in fact being ‘billed’.  If the rules are going to change in any relationship, I am a big believer in setting the expectations upfront about how it is going to be going forward to ensure both parties are clear and there aren’t any grey areas.  Communication is key.

It got reinforced to me when a client said his staff surveys revealed that they still want more communication from the top.  He says this issue comes up every year, yet he feels he communicates all the time!

Communication is a constant issue for all leaders. I clearly remember one of my mentors telling me early in my leadership career – communicate everything or risk others communicating on your behalf. That is, in the absence of information, staff will just assume and make it up.  That’s how gossip starts and ‘poison’ can infect a culture.

As a leader, I learnt to communicate often and share information.  I believe this was one of the key factors in building a high performance culture and trust in my last organisation.  In some recruitment companies, no financial results are shared – team or individual.  This ‘confidential’ information is kept under lock and key and protects those who are potentially having a ‘bad month’ or in non-performance.  I take the opposite approach – share the budget, the goals, the business top line results, individual results including sales leader boards, industry benchmarks – the more information and data the better.  It builds trust, gets buy-in, will explain why some decisions are made and increases performance and accountability.  I felt I could never communicate too much.

Communication starts from the top and the leader sets the tone.  Decide what is and isn’t acceptable, what methods and forums are suitable for what messages and then be consistent.  For example, I’ll never forget the day I received a text message giving me a salary increase! Good news? Sure. Appropriate device?  Probably not given the importance and sensitivity of the message.

Regardless of situation – whether it is in business, our personal lives, or buying a product or service, the key to having a favourable experience is one where the communication is clear, your expectations are met and when you feel you have been heard and responded to.  Perhaps we never master communication perfectly and perhaps we can always improve and get better.  The solution is having awareness and then checking in with our audience to ensure that we are on the right rack and are being perceived correctly. Ask your staff – “are you clear in what we are trying to achieve?” Ask in an interview “does that answer your question, is that what you were looking for?” Ask your support staff “what’s your understanding of my request?” This technique allows you to gain feedback on your delivery and to see if your message has been interpreted correctly.

Communicate often, communicate verbally, communicate expectations and regularly check-in to ensure you are being effective in your delivery.  Communication is rarely perfect – but I can guarantee you can’t be criticised for telling too much, too often or for asking for too much feedback.

“Skill in the art of communication is crucial to a leader’s success. You can accomplish nothing unless you can communicate effectively.”