Why HR bosses must cultivate leaders with strong personal presence

15 August 2014 -


Building teams with self-confident staff will help push small firms to success as the economy returns to good health, according to a leading self-esteem specialist

Jermaine Haughton

Small businesses in the UK must focus on building dynamic teams full of personal presence to survive in step with the recovery, according to a leading self-esteem expert. Business improvement strategist Sylvia Baldock says that human resources managers have a responsibility to source talents who are both confident in themselves and comfortable with the challenges ahead, as businesses finally get back on their feet.

“We have all met people with strong personal presence at work and socially,” she said. “These are men and women who are comfortable in their own skin – they are self-assured, but not overly flashy and they are able to make everyone around them feel at ease too.”

However, she explained: “because the British are traditionally reserved and overly modest, we may not have the personal presence that our European and American counterparts have, and given the huge post-recession mountains we have to climb, businesses need to be standing out from their competitors and able to attract new business with greater ease.”

In Baldock’s view, small businesses need workers with strong personal presence as these are the people who have charismatic qualities to open up business opportunities and close major deals. “In the UK,” she said, “we need to know how to celebrate and play to, our strengths. There is no point in hiding our talents under a bushel – acknowledging and harnessing our natural skills will ensure a more effective, productive and profitable business. Personal presence obviously isn’t the only thing that you need to be a success, but it is certainly enhances business success.

“In business,” she added, “a strong personal presence will open doors for you, make you stand out from the crowd, get you in front of people you would otherwise never meet, create incredible opportunities and ensure you leave a lasting impact wherever you go. People with strong personal presence attract success because they are well respected by their teams and clients alike. People notice them, want to engage with them and hear what they have to say.”

That said, the public speaker stressed that personal presence must not be confused with arrogance. Instead, it should be construed as a trait that lifts and motivates co-workers: “It is true that some people are just born with it,” she said, “but like most things in life, personal presence can be developed. What it can’t be is faked.”

As revealed in Baldock’s new book From Now to Wow in 30 Days, there are five tips that HR leaders can apply in their efforts to build greater personal presence in their teams:

1. Have a clear vision

Take time to clarify where you want to be in the future. What are your long-term goals? What do you want to contribute to the world, what legacy do you want to leave? Your vision should fill you with passion – if you are not excited by it, then think again, because it will be harder to excite others.

2. Values

Consider the things in life that are really important to you, and stay true to your moral principles or ethics. What really matters to you, and what will you never compromise on? It is easier to make decisions when you are clear about your values.

3. Have a clear sense of purpose

Confidence stems from knowing the direction you wish to take and enjoying your drive and passion to succeed. Having this commitment means you stand tall, walk with purpose and positivity. Know what you want to achieve from every meeting or interaction, and prepare well with the outcome in mind.

4. Authenticity

Do you walk your talk? Authenticity can make or break a business relationship and it hugely affects the impression you give to people. If you are a graphic-design firm, for example, then does your branding have the “wow” factor? If you are a coach, do you invest in your own coaching and development? You will only be believable if you practice what you preach.

5. Give away value

By sharing your expertise and giving some advice or knowledge for free, you will start to attract a following of raving fans. Not only will this raise your profile, you will also find that people want to connect with you, follow you on social media and eventually engage with you and refer you to others. Giving before you receive also gives you a real “feel good” factor.

Cognitive psychologist Dr Lynda Shaw supports Baldock’s theory, adding that many of the most successful workers and leaders have an invaluable aura about them that radiates throughout the workplace. She explained: “When you see someone with personal presence, without realising it you are often drawn to them, you notice them, you may mimic their posture or expressions for example if they laugh, you tend to laugh too. They influence how you feel and they are highly influential in business. It often goes hand-in-hand with self-confidence, but personal presence needs to be authentic and those who ooze personal presence often have well aligned values, positive energy, and stand tall.”

For more on these issues, check out the details on this forthcoming CMI seminar Self-Coaching to Overcome Your Personal “Roadblocks”.

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