What with the connotations of aura, groundedness, stature, calmness and wisdom, the comparison between mature, majestic trees and people with impressive leadership presence is an obvious one.
Yet that doesn’t make it invalid. Here’s how I see it.
While the tree’s canopy is as multifaceted as that of an oak in full summer leaf, the trunk has just two core parts.
The first is your clear, repeatedly evidenced will to move and adjust in ways that ensure you stay on course towards your own goals. You set short-term markers to keep things on track.
The second part of the trunk is your drive to go out of your way to facilitate others doing the same. You take sustenance from this.
Striving for your own goals and inspiring the people you come into contact with to do the same – these are the two core parts of leadership presence. And identifying ‘just’ two parts is helpful. Truly owning and embodying any leadership quality is not easy, so two are quite enough as principal targets. Focus deeply, mindfully and concertedly. These are lifelong projects.
They’re a little yin and yang, too. You can’t be overweening in your ambition if you care this much about others. And you cannot be an ineffectual people-pleaser if you care this much about your own progression and development.
What about the leaves in the canopy? They are many: the recognition that leadership presence is not loud and brash but nor is it meek; cherishing your uniqueness as you would a beautiful fruit; seeking the inspirational and idiosyncratic in people; aversion to negative talk and negative talkers.
But start with the trunk: strive at all times to achieve your own goals and to help others do the same. This makes you a leader fit for any company, not just a senior manager suited to one.