Project Ideas for Developing Leadership Presence

7 Pages Posted: 30 May 2017

See all articles by Elizabeth A. Powell

Elizabeth A. Powell

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business


This note is aimed to help individuals develop projects for growing leadership presence through a self-designed project. The note offers four general types of projects, each offering a set of strategies for growing leadership presence either in a formal performance or in everyday life.



Rev. Dec. 13, 2013


Although business communication encompasses all forms of media, none can compete with the power of an executive's physical bearing and aura of conviction. To paraphrase Marshall MacLuhan, sometimes the leader is the message. Leaders communicate their expectations and priorities not only through words, but through their presence and actions. In short, a leader's credibility and reputation can depend a great deal on how—and how much—he or she embodies the message.

Contrary to what you may think, you can develop, enhance, or broaden your leadership presence repertoire. Traditional public speaking courses can provide an excellent foundation, but adding techniques from the worlds of acting and mindfulness can take your confidence and performance to new levels. With feedback from a supportive group of colleagues, friends, or classmates, you can learn to gauge whether your leadership presence conveys what you seek to communicate and make adjustments accordingly.

Halpern and Lubar's excellent book, Leadership Presence, defines the term as “the ability to connect authentically with the thoughts and feelings of others, in order to motivate and inspire them toward a desired outcome.” The authors introduce the four skills that go into leadership presence using the acronym PRES:

. . .

Keywords: credibility, authenticity

Suggested Citation

Powell, Elizabeth A., Project Ideas for Developing Leadership Presence. Darden Case No. UVA-BC-0228. Available at SSRN:

Elizabeth A. Powell (Contact Author)

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business ( email )

P.O. Box 6550
Charlottesville, VA 22906-6550
United States
434-982-2730 (Phone)


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