What is Presence?

What is PresenceWhat is Presence and why is it the most difficult thing for any manager to develop?

This is what I was asked at a recent workshop for new managers….What is Presence?

Well first, I don’t mean a nice fitting suit, shoes and a haircut. There is presence and there’s Presence.

Anyone and Everyone

Anyone can make the observation that what is most difficult to develop is what is most lacking.

Presence means your knowledge of Self and insight, awareness and understanding are the overriding energy you use to be, to interact and respond to situations and people.

You don’t react based on conditioning.

Why do I think that Presence is so important, so needed?

All that we take in (and give out) through experiences, training, the small or implicit biases we feel, how others respond to us…..is filtered through and influenced by our Presence or lack there of.

Let’s say the pressures of work—producing in the face of disappointments, frustrations and subsequent day-to-day stress overwhelms the manager and he/she dismisses a poor performing employee as a bum, a loser, worthless. Well, where does that employee have to go from there? They aren’t leaving but you just wrote them off and closed the door on any improvement. Do you get a sense of the depth of influence in this manager’s approach?

On the other hand if the manager had Presence he would be able to pivot in real time, right in front of the difficult employee and remember that people are the basis of productivity and profit. Presence would prompt the manager to the fact that, it’s management’s function to help people be productive. He would then work to create an environment of possibility–creating a space for improvement rather than dismissing the employee and closing things off.

With Presence, you don’t lose yourself or come unhinged or hijacked by the situation.

How to begin:

Be still for a moment. Pause and collect yourself. Take 10-Minutes each day to look back at some of your reactions and the conditioning that influenced them. That’s the starting place for improvement. Use my 10-Minute Leadership Habit Tool to build an effective habit that will serve you throughout your career.

Be deliberate and take the high road. Don’t follow conditioned reactions, mass culture or societal norms. Look at everyone with the eyes of an advocate. I am not saying you have to love everyone. I am asking you to tolerate the challenging people and don’t look at them with condemnation and accusing eyes. Avoid judging and labeling people—putting them in easy to dispose of dehumanized categories, he’s a loser or she’s a socialist.

Apply observation and understanding not condemnation. Everyone is going through something you know nothing about.

Presence on the outside looks like poise, self-control, self-possession. From the inside it looks or feels like composure and contentment that stems from insight into human Nature/the human condition. You understand and you’re ready to pardon and forgive. You offer patience and space.


Presence shows up in life through your actions

The three hardest things for any human to do are based on Presence not training or technical skill.

They are:

  • Returning love for hate
  • Including those who are excluded
  • Admitting that you are wrong


Kindness is a language the deaf can hear and the blind can see.Mark Twain


Presence is simple but difficult. That’s why you don’t see it as often. Management is more challenging today but it is also more rewarding.

What people want is deep and simple—understanding, a smile. What we often get is shallow and complex, performance evaluations, data, models and flow charts

Presence is most like mindfulness because without mindfulness there’s no Presence.


About Brian….

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© Brian Braudis 2021, All rights reserved

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