Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Command Presence - Beyond the Physical Attributes

eye with cracked areas around it
(Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay)
I am a fan of the '60s television series Green Acres. In the episode "The Ballad of Molly Turgiss," Oliver and Lisa Douglas learn about the curse of Molly Turgiss—a woman the town labeled "ugly" who vowed in her death to haunt anyone who spoke her name.  She let her presence be known in a very tangible way, such as throwing things and stealing vehicles.

So, why did I choose this episode to blog about? I am not condoning the actions of those who judge anyone for their looks, but I am not naive enough to believe that looks don't matter. In fact, someone recently commented on a Facebook question about height being an issue they say affects their command presence. But the outward appearance of a leader only goes "skin deep."  When we talk about the look of a leader, we need to go deeper than the physical attributes.

I don't want to underplay the importance of the physical; those attributes are important, especially during initial impressions and interviews. But as long as a person maintains good hygiene, most people will eventually move beyond physical attributes.

So what does a leader look like?

Answers are as varied as those answering the question. In her Forbes' article "Ten Questions to Power Up Your Leadership Presence, Carol Kinsey-Goman asks leaders to consider the following questions with regard to their command presence. Do you know who you are?
  1. Are you a clear communicator?
  2. Are you a concise communicator?
  3. Do you speak with conviction?
  4. Do you tell stories?
  5. Does your body language project presence?
  6. Do you dress for leadership success?
  7. Do you tailor your content for different audiences?
  8. Do you stay poised and positive under pressure?
  9. Do you have a plan for self-promotion?
  10. Are you inspirational?
Now back to Molly Turgiss...

We owe it to mission and our team to support one another. We should establish leadership environments where constructive criticism and healthy conflict can be voiced. If someone isn't looking like a leader, those concerns can be raised in a safe and healthy manner.

***Spoiler Alert***

In the case of Molly Turgiss, Lisa befriends her and offers to perform a makeover if Molly promises not to haunt the town again. Molly accepts Lisa's offer and loves her new look. I am saddened to say the townspeople of Hooterville got off easy; I am not sure they learned their lesson. I hope they saw that Lisa was able show them the err of their ways and free Molly from an eternity of hurt.

Wildland Fire Leadership Challenge: Digging a Little Deeper

Pam McDonald is a writer/editor for BLM Wildland Fire Training and Workforce Development and member of the NWCG Leadership Subcommittee. The expressions are those of the author.
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