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ACP Presence Model: The Secret to Leadership Presence

By April 6, 2020Video

We are in uncharted territory. In the interest of full disclosure, things are happening in my life. Cancellations, looking at my bank account, all of those things that I’m sure a lot of you are experiencing. Like I said in my first video, it can be really easy to slip into the fear and anxiety, and the negative prospection. What if this happens, and if this happens, and if this happens? It’s easy to go into the worst case scenario.

One of the things that I do to pull myself out of that amygdala activation is to pull myself into my prefrontal cortex.  I do it with creativity: by doing videos like this, continuing to write about this stuff, and just keeping myself creative. Listening to music also helps me, and watching things that inspire me to continue to create.  That’s been working for me really well, so I just offer that as a useful tool for getting through a time like this. With that, I will get off my soapbox and get to authenticity/confidence/purpose.

First of all, I’m not going to call it authenticity/confidence/purpose anymore. I’m going to call it my ACP framework – ACP for short, just to make it easy. I’d like to give you a context for how I came up with this framework. I’m sure you all know by now I’m a leadership communication consultant, which means that I have traveled around the world working with executives and teams on their communication. That could be their content, putting their message together. That could be their delivery, or that could be working on their presence.

Now, there’s a very interesting thing that happens when you ask a smart, mature, intelligent, capable human being to stand in front of a room of people (many of whom they know) and speak. What I really love about that work is that it offers an opportunity to transform insecurities and transform beliefs. When you put somebody in that kind of a situation, all of their insecurities come up to the surface. I started to see that there were certain clusters of insecurities that showed up repeatedly, and they tended to cluster around three different types.

There’s the insecurity around, “There’s something wrong with me. I’m not interesting. People are going to look at me. They’re going to notice this thing about me.” Basically, these are insecurities about who you are as a person. Certain language would show up over and over again.

There were insecurities around ability:  “I don’t know what I’m doing. I can’t do this.” This is understandable for someone who doesn’t do a whole lot of speaking, but this was different. It was just a deeper type of insecurity that would show up that seemed to be beyond just the task of speaking to a group of people.

The final cluster of insecurities would be around, “I don’t even know why I’m doing this. What’s the point? What’s the point of my job? What’s the point of this activity?” These clusters were around authenticity – a fear of showing yourself; they were around confidence – a lack of belief in one’s abilities; and, they were around a lack of purpose. Authenticity, Confidence and Purpose – ACP. That’s one way that I came up with this framework.

The other way was that people came to me and said, “Hey, my boss says I need more presence.”  I would say, “Well, what does your boss mean by that?” They would say, “I don’t know. They don’t know. But they said I need it and I’ve got to work on it.” There’s this idea around presence that we can’t really define it, but we know it when we see it.

One way that I wanted to crack this nut of how to develop something that we can’t really define was to start looking at people who do have presence. I was fortunate enough that when I was an actor, I used to hang out on movie sets and around people who absolutely have presence, and who get paid a lot of money because of the amount of presence that they have.

I will never forget when I worked with Matt LeBlanc. Twice. Once on Friends and then on his show Joey, the spin-off. This was at the height of Friends frenzy – they were the “it” group and he was making a lot of money per episode. To be around somebody who was so famous and so wealthy was a really interesting experience. He was one of those people that really did shine. He just had that charisma, that X-factor. He had that thing that just made you want to be around this person – and at the same time, he was so cool and so down to earth, and so available and approachable. He was just a very attractive person, outside of his physical attractiveness. He was magnetic.

I’ve been around celebrities and A-list actors, and then when I transferred into the business world, I’ve also been around business leaders who have that x-factor, that charisma. I started to notice that there were commonalities.

Also, if you think about those people that you admire, whether they are celebrities or not, there is a sense that they are comfortable in their own skin and they know who they are – authenticity. There’s a sense that they believe in themselves, they know that they’re good at what they do, and that they believe that they can deliver – confidence. And, you get a sense that they have a connection to a larger purpose or mission, and that they understand that they’re contributing to a cause that’s larger than themselves.

So, ACP shows up with people who have presence and charisma, and ACP shows up with people who lack them. That’s how I came up with this framework: the ACP Presence model. The whole thesis is, if you can cultivate authenticity, confidence, and purpose, then you will start to express those qualities and characteristics that we associate with leadership presence.

Now, I created this model within the context of leadership communication, but it can certainly translate to other situations. It really is a framework that you can use for personal and professional development. It’s something that you can use for individual development, for leadership, and for creating a culture within an organization that fosters authenticity, confidence, and purpose. It’s a very translatable, transferable, universal framework that can apply to different situations and from the individual to the collective.

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