Presence: A Key to Effective Leadership and an Emergent Culture

Presence: A Key to Effective Leadership and an Emergent Culture
By Margaret Graziano

By Margaret Graziano

The world is transforming faster than ever. Many employees and leaders are feeling overwhelmed by rapidly evolving markets, a new generation entering the workforce, and the impact of the digital age.


To adapt to these changes and continue to enable your organization to grow, you first need to look within. It all begins with presence. What does presence mean to you and do you know how to experience what it is to be present in this moment right now?


What Is Presence?


Presence is about relearning how to be in the world and fully engaging in all of life’s unique moments.


Many people are unproductive and unhappy because they haven’t learned to slow down and maximize their effectiveness or optimize their innate intelligence. The impact of this extends beyond just the individual; the people around you, the people you lead, and the culture of the organization are all impacted by someone who isn’t clear and grounded (not present).


There are four main areas of development to consider when it comes to equipping yourself to be present.


  1. Focus On Full Presence


The working world is full of things that can take you out of the present moment. Multitasking, keeping your cell phone on, constantly checking your emails, and having many open windows on your computer are all things that distract people. Cognitive overload is the result of these distractions, leading people to experience an inability to focus and stay on track, bouts of agitation, and increased distress, culminating in decreases in productivity and strained work relationships. No matter the skill or competence level, when a human being has too many things to keep track of, it’s difficult to focus and complete tasks.


The impacts of distractions and cognitive load are not limited to productivity and relationships with others either. A Harvard study found that mind wandering is also an indicator of a person’s happiness. The more present someone was, the happier they reported themselves to be.


One of the most important things to do to get present is to remove yourself from the world of distraction. Attempt to implement some liberating constraints, such as turning your cellphone off during periods of focus, signing out of your email account and only logging in during scheduled email sessions, keeping only 1 or 2 windows open on your computer, and blocking out time to focus on specific tasks or projects.


Another way to keep yourself on track and in a present state of mind is to know, understand, and experience what your ultimate purpose is and define what it looks like to operate in alignment with that purpose. When you do that, you give yourself the opportunity to tune in to what is important and how to work in service of that purpose.


  1. Embrace Childlike Wonder


Childlike wonder is being completely immersed in the world around you. It’s about coming from an open/neutral perspective, getting curious, asking questions, and being aware of when you are judging and evaluating.


Many people become entrenched in their perspectives, beliefs, preferences, points of view, etc. as they grow up. To be fully present with others, you have to let go of your inherent or historical biases. Otherwise, It’s as if you are viewing the world with orange tinted glasses. Everything you experience is tinted orange because that’s how you see and perceive. In this mindset, you won’t be able to accept new and different ideas, or engage with others you speak to.


When it comes to childlike wonder, it’s about setting aside all biases, agendas, perceptions, and beliefs about how things are going to go and being curious so you can truly connect and interact with others as an “empty vessel”. When you are empty of perceptions, preferences, judgements, biases and beliefs, you are truly able to meet people where they are and enable them to not only feel like they are contributing, but to actually contribute.


  1. Master Sensory Acuity


Sensory acuity is using all our senses to observe the world around us in order to gather detailed information about the present moment. This is especially important for communication because there are other factors that contribute more to understanding someone than just their words. In fact, words make up only about 7% of communication.


Mastering sensory acuity requires using your other keen senses to expand how you see, perceive, understand, and communicate with others. Things like tonality, where their eyes are looking, what color their face is (i.e. blushing), the shape of their mouth, and how they are standing or sitting are all indicators of the way someone feels that is not communicated through their words.


Developing this skill requires you to focus entirely on the person with whom you are communicating with. Mastering this not only allows you to read people at a higher level, but to also understand and relate to them in a deeper manner, which is directly related to the fourth category.



  1. Develop Rapport


Developing rapport is essential to cultivating healthy and harmonious relationships with those you work with and those in your personal life. Rapport is about understanding and respecting the feelings of others and in doing so, strengthening your ability to work together.


Developing rapport requires you to establish trust. To do that you need to be able to offer support, communicate effectively, and follow through with what you say. The number one way to break trust is to make promises you can’t or don’t keep. When you can’t keep a commitment, make sure to alert people affected by it as soon as you know. Life gets in the way sometimes. People will understand that a lot better when they are notified in advance of you breaking your agreement.



Be Present to the World Around You and Elevate Your Leadership and Culture


Presence at work is about being attuned to the task, function, or project you’re working and the people around you. To be a high-performance leader and to cultivate an emergent culture, it’s crucial that you make developing presence a core tenet of your leadership development. When you embody presence and inspire others to do the same, everyone grows in their ability to connect with each other and build stronger relationships at work, resulting in greater productivity, results, and fulfillment.

About the Author:

Margaret Graziano, known as the Evolutionist, is the founder and CEO of KeenAlignment, as well as a Wall Street Journal Best-Selling Author for her book “Ignite Culture.”  She has been recognized as one of Silicon Valley’s Top 100 Women Leaders. Magi’s groundbreaking work is driven by her power to uncover and catalyze human potential. Go to for more information.

Stay Connected!

Subscribe to FitBizWeekly’s FREE newsletter for news, commentary, idea sharing and developments across the Canadian health and fitness industry.

By clicking on the Subscribe button you agree to be on our newsletter list. You can opt out anytime. We respect your privacy. Your information will not be shared and your email address will be stored safely.