Discover how high executive presence (EP) leaders are agile at adopting different perspectives beyond their role and ahead in time. They see "bigger picture" future-inclusive perspectives and bring them to the present.
- After the brutal, divisive Civil War that finally ended slavery in the United States, a war that went on for years, and resulted in more US soldiers killed than any other war before or since, President Abraham Lincoln invited a group of wounded veterans to meet with him in the nation's capital. With characteristic eloquence, Lincoln honored the soldiers for their service. Now even to this day, that's where this sort of ceremony typically ends. But in this case, as in so many others, Lincoln demonstrated the pattern of thinking that characterizes leaders with strong executive presence. I love to pause at these pivotal moments to accentuate the difference that's possible when great leaders give us something we can apply to our situations. Here's what Lincoln did. Instead of dismissing the soldiers after the ceremony, he led them down the hall into a room filled with children's toys. He asked them to take some toys to give to children in their hometowns. It's a beautiful example of the thinking patterns that characterize high-presence executive leaders. When being fully engaged in the moment, fully present for the people with whom they're interacting, high-presence leaders also think, one, ahead in time, and, two, across stakeholders. By stakeholders, I mean relevant individuals, teams, organizations, or institutions who have a stake in the issue at hand. In those terms, Lincoln's example is extraordinary. Consider the complex high-quality consideration condensed into that one simple additional step, take some toys. Lincoln was thinking ahead in time about the soldiers and across stakeholders they'd encounter. For one thing, Lincoln realized that for the soldiers being thanked by their president is fine, but temporary. What they really need going forward is a way to return to their lives and families and communities, a way to transition from the horrors of battle and the devastation of their injuries. They need to transition back into civilian life in a war-torn country where everything had changed. Having gifts for children helped the soldiers connect to people instead of feeling alienated from them. It gave them meaning and purpose for the new phase of their lives in tangible form, not just an idea or a hope. The soldiers hold the toys in their hands and give them into the hands of children who need them most. Now that's connection! It also helps the soldiers connect with their families and communities, coming home with something to give, despite what all of them had lost. In addition, it sent a message to communities across the entire country. The war is over, truly, finally. Soldiers now bear gifts instead of arms. Lincoln new better, and so do other leaders with strong executive presence. They have perspective. They're fully engaged in the here and now while also attentive to possibilities and opportunities ahead in time and across stakeholders. Given his humble background and challenging life history, he knew from experience that these patterns of thinking aren't the privilege of elites, but habits accessible to anyone who focuses on the right things. Lincoln points the way for us today as much as he did for his wounded soldiers and war-weary countrymen many years ago when he said this: "The best thing about the future "is that it comes one day at a time." In that thought, as in so many of Lincoln's, there's a lot of perspective. And the best thing about perspective, as Lincoln role-modeled again and again, is the difference it makes when you have it. So let's cover next step by step how to build and use yours for the difference you want to make.
- Inner and outer factors for executive presence
- How to think about yourself and others
- Being emotionally proactive
- Getting things done
- Action patterns of leaders with executive presence