Presence Isn’t a Leadership Impersonation

Believe me, there isn’t a bigger fan of “acting as if” or “faking it until you make it.” The general strategy of acting as if you’ve already accomplished a desired result can be extremely effective for forward progress and high-level achievement. When you “act as if,” it helps you A) start some behavior you’ve been delaying, B) take on winning habits, and C) it accelerates leveling up from your current state by forcing the issue on adaptation.

Key to “acting as if” is having a clear picture of what your charade should look like. Unfortunately, I think when left to our own devices, for example, we may miss the mark on leadership. Likely, the result would be impersonations of all the wrong things, especially when it comes to presence.

Great leaders have great presence. What, though, does that presence look like? Is it a puffed up chest? Do badass leaders have a jarring, loud voice? Here’s where the false impersonation comes in, because presence isn’t a posture or a tone of voice or a gait. Presence is all of those physical characteristics in the context of who you are. Presence is a combination of you, your experience, and your leadership skills plus how you present yourself in the room. It’s both.

Is presence walking tall? I’ll never forget when Hall of Fame outfielder Dave Winfield walked into our clubhouse in spring training to talk to the Padres offense and saying “Wow..” out loud in my head. He was 6’6” but he walked like he was 7’6”, but was his posture and gait presence? It was part of it. It was his physical presence in addition to his personal brand that he built over a lifetime. We’ve all chuckled at big boy who walks into the bar, like he’s Dave Winfield, but he’s never done anything in his life. That’s not presence. That’s an impersonation of presence. We can see through the posture. We see the false swagger in the gait.

I used to spend some holidays with former heavyweight champion of the world and member of the Boxing Hall of Fame, Ken Norton. May his soul rest in peace. This soft spoken leader often took on the most loving, humble mannerisms. His bowing head nods, hand-on-your-shoulder communication, and folded-hand-sitting-posture didn’t scream bad motherfucker. Breaking Muhammad Ali’s jaw did that for him. Maybe if you saw these mannerisms in an insecure high school sophomore, you’d think this guy is a softie. Surely, this guy is no one to pay attention to. Yet, for Norton, it was inspiring because in his context he was more complex than a brute. He had presence just like Winfield. Yet, without context it looked completely different.

Leadership isn’t what it looks like in the movies. Presence is key, but you can’t pull a fast one on people. Leadership is the same way and when we try to do an impression of good leadership, people see the smoke and mirrors. Great leadership can be loud at times, but it can include a soft heart. People will feel your presence, whether you’re chest is out because you’ve lived a life of pride or you’re a coward in a cape. Earn your presence, leaders.



Logan Gelbrich


9/16/16 WOD

Make 3 Attempts at 50’ Max Yoke Zercher Carry


Then, complete 3 rounds for time of:

10 Push Presses (135/95)

20 Pullups

30 Pushups

40 Situps