Developing personal presence in employees

Personal presence isn’t just for business leaders - it is fundamentally about how we connect with others, and because of that, it is for everyone.
By: | May 29, 2019


About the Author
Andrew Coller is a Training Consultant at the Professional Development Centre, British Council

We have all met people we feel drawn to, for a seemingly unknown reason. Very often, this breed of individual isn’t the loudest or most charismatic in the room, but somehow, these unique people command attention and respect in a way that is natural and unforced.

What makes them so different? Well, the answer to that is personal presence. They always appear confident and comfortable in their own skin.


The constitution of personal presence

While personal presence may be difficult to define, we all know it when we see it. It is essentially a state of being that, when mastered, allows individuals to reduce fear, make better choices, and in turn, influence the people around them.

We measure personal presence through the 3Cs, which are confidence, credibility and connection:

  • Confidence is about being optimistic that one can achieve stretch goals
  • Credibility is about being believed and trusted through one’s thoughts and actions
  • Connection is about one’s ability to bring personal warmth and empathy to build relationships in a diverse community

These 3Cs are life skills and have a lot to do with how we connect our rational world with our emotional world. Essentially, they form the key elements of an autonomous person. For example, two people may present the same on paper in every way. But in real life, what distinguishes them is their capacity to relate to others – or not.

The point to note is, personal presence is a universal area of development, because how well you connect with others matters, regardless of what stage you are in of your career, or what industry. It is not just for senior leaders, it’s for everyone.


How you can develop personal presence

People say personal presence is God-given – you have it or you don’t – but this isn’t true. To help hone personal presence, British Council worked closely with Six Seconds, a non-profit organization dedicated to the awareness of “emotional intelligence”, to build a one-of-a-kind tool.

In a nutshell, the KNOW Presence tool enables individuals to build self-awareness by naming emotional ‘walls’ and their root causes.

Having identified personal issues that challenge them, such as the inability to form deep relationships, or experiencing feelings of acute fear when faced with a difficult conversation, a personal coach then provides support and guidelines.

Individuals are encouraged to take responsibility for their own development through prioritizing areas of growth, and recognising strengths to build on.

The exercise enables people to see, in a very practical manner, that the power to change is in their own hands. In doing do, they begin to increase their capacity to demonstrate personal presence.


Foundation in Emotional Quotient (EQ)

The tool is at its core research-based and scientifically validated, and while there might a be host of well-crafted resources in the market, what differentiates this is its grounding in EQ, which comes as a result of Six Seconds’ expertise.

We place a strong emphasis on EQ because a person’s individual response to the world is often highly determined by their emotional understanding of themselves and others.

In the same vein, industry studies have shown that areas such as resilience, trust building and change management will be key for individuals to progress not just as workers, but as a human race.

Underpinning all of these aspects are undeniably EQ. Thus, with EQ intrinsically woven into the tool, it is set to assist people in experiencing greater self-awareness, higher levels of self-management, deeper empathy and a stronger ability to build relationships.