Best of CoBiz: Six traits of top dogs

We’ve all encountered those few individuals who immediately make their presence known when they walk into a room.  Or you may be one of the few who possess this trait and elicit this type of response. 

What sets these individuals apart from the masses?  Their wit and charm, or ability to win in corporate politics?  Yes, these characteristics are important.  But there is another quality of great importance.  It is what we call “command presence.” 

Here is a list of the essential characteristics that set apart those who rise to the top from those who huddle with the rest of the pack.

1) People with command presence don’t spend much time worrying about what others think about them.  I’ve seen this problem with many executives and how it holds them back in their careers.  They want to be liked or seen as “the good guy.” I’m not saying wanting to be liked makes you weak or unable to make and carry through on tough decisions.  But it can be damaging, especially when taken to the extreme.  People you work with, from supervisors to subordinates, will notice this flaw in you.  This unfortunately can lead to a lack of trust, respect and even decreased morale on your team. 

2) They have a sense of purpose and know who they are, including awareness of themselves at the spiritual level.   It is hard to be a strong leader when you’re not sure of your personal convictions.  People want to follow and be inspired by a leader with an unshakable vision.  Why should people take notice of you if at heart, you are somewhat aimless and without purpose?

3) They know their strengths and limitations, and have an overall belief that they will not fail.  This is the confidence and even arrogance people expect of those who project power.  The biggest trap we can set for ourselves is the mistake of overlooking our faults only to be blind-sided by them later.  People who know themselves well and accept the good with the bad don’t need to waste energy covering up their insecurities.  They decide to use their energy to build their personal presence and personal power instead.  And when times are rough, they decide that failure is not an option due to their firm belief system in their own abilities.

4) They know how to be humble and are not threatened by others.  This combination in a leader makes them easy to follow and worthy of following.  People who have faith in themselves aren’t always looking over their shoulders, worrying about the person behind them.  They are, however, savvy enough to quickly spot the person who will throw them under the bus.   

5) They operate with integrity.  Enough said.

6) They look fear straight in the eye.  It is said that courage isn’t the absence of fear but the ability to feel and embrace fear and move forward anyway.  This has the effect of stripping away fear, one layer at a time.  And a person who has confronted all of their demons is a fierce spirit to be reckoned with.

Many of you might disagree with this article because you’ve witnessed some of the most insecure people in the world projecting power and displaying the mannerisms and qualities outlined above.  These are not the people I’m talking about. 

People who bully and use intimidation don’t possess real power.  They have found a way to wield a perceived level of authority to their advantage.  But in the end they will lose any respect they thought they commanded. 

There are a few things you can do if you want to work on your command presence.  Projecting authority, building confidence and being recognized as a leader can take time.  You should first identify what is holding you back.  Dig deep if necessary. 

Stop being afraid of your own power and potential.  Figure out who you are, what you really want to do and what you’re capable of.  Then turn it into a vision, preferably one that helps others.

Having command presence and true power, though, comes with a price.  You’ll feel like you live in a fishbowl, and it is lonely at the top.  But if you’re willing to fight and endure these realities, you will experience a great deal of success, and more importantly, really be able to make lasting contributions that few others will be able to claim.

Categories: Management & Leadership