5 Steps to Developing Leadership Presence: Creating Awareness and EI

EI, Emotional Intelligence, mindfulness, presence

Key skills for leaders

There are countless books, seminars and websites that offer the “5 keys to leadership” or the “7 traits every leader should know”. All of these contain great information that leaders can incorporate into their style.

 I am going to join the fray and say there are 2 key skills every leader should practice:presence and mindfulness.

Awareness and emotional intelligence:

Practicing presence and mindfulness assists in developing two crucial traits to great leadership: awareness and emotional intelligence. A leader’s awareness of their strengths, liabilities, emotions and behaviors allows them to lead from a grounded perspective. A leader’s ability to identify, assess and control their emotions enables them to better manage relationships, conflicts, and create desired outcomes. Embodying these traits allows a leader to make better strategic decisions, see more options, and carry out shared visions and plans with a higher sense of certainty.

Doing vs. being:

As leaders and as people we are more often than not “doing”, perpetually in motion from one project or task to the next. We are paid “to do” stuff. We are not paid “to be”. My theory is that by investing your own “being”, you can greatly improve the results from your “doing”.


How to start “being”:
  • Begin by understanding that there is a lot you do not know. This may be tough because leaders usually rise to their position based on what they do know.
  • Create practices and habits that cultivate and develop your awareness muscles (meditation, exercise, thinking time).
  • Work with someone to help you on your journey of self-exploration (coach, mentor or other professional).
  • Be ready to see the good, bad and the ugly and take actions to develop or let go of those habits, traits or thoughts that do not serve you or your organization.
  • Most important, this is not a quick fix. Presence, mindfulness, awareness and emotional intelligence are a life long journey of discovery.


No matter what level of leadership from entry-level supervisor to CEO, practicing presence and mindfulness can give you the space to begin cultivating awareness and developing emotional intelligence.

It is never too late to start, so I will stop writing and let you begin. 


Derek Lauber, ACC

image courtesy: Sara Hawerlander

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