Coffee Conversations Ep. 9: Presence and Voice

March 10, 2021
  • David VanderMolen
  • David VanderMolen
    Learning Sensei at Barry-Wehmiller
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When you boil leadership down to its essential elements, without question, there are two essential ingredients at the core of inspirational leadership — presence and voice.

Presence is a somewhat esoteric element of Truly Human Leadership; an element that’s easier to experience than it is to explain. In short, its presence is the way you show up to those in your span care. It’s more than simply showing up, it’s a showing up that is personal, warm, centered, and outwardly and other-focused. Presence is the message I send with my whole person — in terms of posture, gestures, stance, eye contact, facial expressions and emotional engagement — that says, I am wholly in this moment and present for you.

Voice is the the rest of the message; the verbal message that aligns or affirms the message in one’s presence. It’s the ”what you say” and ”how you say it” potion of your message.

When leaders bring their presence and voice to the people in their span of care, people tend to thrive. When leaders fail to bring their presence and voice to the people in their span of care, people tend to not thrive. The power of presence and voice is essential for leaders to bring to their people if they want their people to survive and thrive.

Brew on this…

When a leader brings their presence and voice to people in their span of care, they convey three meaningful messages…

  • I have the courage to care
  • I have your back
  • I’m here to help

Reflect on this…

  • Do I simply show up or show up in such a way where my people experience my presence?
  • Do my verbal messages to my people align well with my intentions and actions to be present with my people?
  • Do the people in my span of care experience and believe this about me: I have the courage to care, I have your back and I’m here to help?
  • What one action can I take today to provide the people in my span of care or improve with the people in my span of care my presence and voice?

David VanderMolen is a professor in Barry-Wehmiller University and the host of Coffee Conversations. You can find all past episodes here.


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