Leadership Presence and the Courage to Speak

3 Pages Posted: 30 May 2017

See all articles by Elizabeth A. Powell

Elizabeth A. Powell

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business


This note applies the concept of "leadership presence" as established by Belle Linda Halpern and Kathy Lubar to the concerns of business leaders.



Feb. 27, 2012

Leadership Presence and the Courage to Speak

In the Oscar-winning film, The King's Speech, the speech coach, played by Geoffrey Rush, prods with the question, “Why should I waste my time listening to you?” In a breakthrough moment, Colin Firth as King George VI exclaims, “Because I have a voice!” To which the coach knowingly replies, “Why, yes, you do.”

King George VI must speak for his nation in a time of war, but he also speaks for us in the audience when he taps into his presence as a leader and summons up what I call “rhetorical courage.” You don't have to be a king or struggle with a speech impediment to identify with the debilitating fear of being caught searching for words. But as I have found in my 20 years of working with managers and leaders, underneath that anxiety and frustration lies a powerful and authentic voice waiting to emerge.

What is the key to projecting your presence and leading with rhetorical courage? The answer lies in a simple but profound idea: Speaking your mind, from the heart, even when your voice shakes.

. . .

Keywords: rhetoric, courage

Suggested Citation

Powell, Elizabeth A., Leadership Presence and the Courage to Speak. Darden Case No. UVA-BC-0242. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2973902

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)

HOME PAGE: http://www.darden.edu/faculty/Powell.htm

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