The 2015 book "Presence" is holding on to a high ranking on Amazon. Right now, it's 2,674.
Researched and written by Harvard Business School professor Amy Cuddy, it has set off the same sort of revolution which "Emotional Intelligence" had in the 1990s. That was by Dan Goleman. The 2005 edition of "Emotional Intelligence" is holding up on Amazon at 2,420.
Thanks to "Presence," the ambitious recognize that they have to establish - perfectly - their staging in professional contexts.
Not that the concept is new.
Ronald Reagan, Kathrine Hepburn and Steve Jobs had been masters of that craft. Current players who do it justice range from Queen Elizabeth to Jeff Bezos.
What is new are two realities.
One is that it's no longer a smart add-on. It's downright necessary. That's especially in professional services which have become a buyer's market.
Being a management consultant in a powerful brandname firm doesn't guarantee that you will get or keep the business. You could be bypassed in the selection process. Soon enough you will be forced out.
The second is that the expectations have changed about what kind of persona is in demand. In a different time - like, the 20th century - it was okay to adopt the staging of the aloof genius. The message transmitted was: You are lucky to have me assisting you.
That was then.
Now the successful in professional services do backflips to send a very different message. It's: I am totally here for you. The dominant persona for rainkmakers in professional services is that nothing they think or do is about them. It's all about the client.
For some management consultants, lawyers and crisis communications experts that could mean returning to the drawing board for heavy-duty persona work.
A senior supervisor employed by the state of Connecticut was amazed at how many lawyers applying for positions in the court system didn't know how to interview. At least in ways that would get them hired. They were self-absorbed. Their staging consisted of a dramatic monologue.
An excellent role model for presence in professional services is the mother fully engaged with her toddler. She is wheeling the shopping cart in the supermarket keeping the child in the front seat stimulated. This is no ambiguity. That isn't about her.
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