Leadership Presence

developing whole leaders & teams | embodied leadership skills


‘In both everyday life and in situations of leadership, complicated no longer describes the environment or the goal. Complex defines the day. What you’ve always counted on before – yourself, your skills, your proven methods – no longer works sufficiently. You need something new, you realize. But what?’

Doug Silsbee
Presence-based Leadership

At all levels of organizations, increasingly greater demand is placed upon us to manage ever greater complexity. Demands on attention, focus, processing, energy, health, relational & mental capacities and more. All too often, as Doug highlights above, the old methods prove to be no longer ‘fit for purpose’ in such an evolved, rapid-fire environment. The negative downstream effects on creativity, communication, innovation, productivity, well-being and ultimately bottom-line are inevitably apparent throughout the organizational ecosystem.

Clearly, an evolution is also required of us in order to optimally meet this upgraded environment—as leaders, as teams and as individuals. This leaves us facing two fundamental issues: A more appropriate skillset is required, one which then needs to be embedded as a new way of being.

What are the upgraded skills required?


In my experience change is typically attempted as either top down or outer to inner process. If it’s mandated from above (executive decision) or if we just gain a few more skills then we believe this will become that. While doing so can give a temporary impression of a shift, any real alteration in behavior — be it individual, team or organizational—is typically not truly effected at program level in the system. This is like telling oneself to be a different way and expecting that to even happen let alone last. The well-worn grooves of habit, the ingrained ruts of our conditioned neurology, are still deeply committed to the old way of being, and inevitably that wins out over any new commitment. Organizational development psychologist Robert Kegan from the Harvard Graduate School of Education describes this as an ‘immunity to change’. System program wins out over top-down decision.


Otto Scharmer of MIT’s Sloane School of Management tells us,

"Leadership in its essence is the capacity to shift the inner place from which we operate. Once they understand how, leaders can build the capacity of their systems to operate differently..."


True change. Lasting change. Has to be effected from inner to out. It must become embodied in the system. To do so we begin by addressing the inner environment — at the level of individual, team and organization — as a way to effect the upgrade needed. That change must begin with the key individuals, with leaders, in order for the system to begin to reorganize around the new way of being.

What are the upgraded skills required?

In my experience change is typically attempted as either top down or outer to inner process. If it’s mandated from above (executive decision) or if we just gain a few more skills then we believe this will become that. While doing so can give a temporary impression of a shift, any real alteration in behavior — be it individual, team or organizational—is typically not truly effected at program level in the system. This is like telling oneself to be a different way and expecting that to even happen let alone last. The well-worn grooves of habit, the ingrained ruts of our conditioned neurology, are still deeply committed to the old way of being, and inevitably that wins out over any new commitment. Organizational development psychologist Robert Kegan from the Harvard Graduate School of Education describes this as an ‘immunity to change’. System program wins out over top-down decision.

Otto Scharmer of MIT’s Sloane School of Management and author of the seminal leadership proposition Theory U tells us,

‘Leadership in its essence is the capacity to shift the inner place from which we operate. Once they understand how, leaders can build the capacity of their systems to operate differently …’

True change. Lasting change. Has to be effected from inner to out. It must become embodied in the system. To do so we begin by addressing the inner environment — at the level of individual, team and organization — as a way to effect the upgrade needed. That change must begin with the key individuals, with leaders, in order for the system to begin to reorganize around the new way of being.


The results of embodied leadership are: team commitment that transcends the work itself and the organization; individuals bringing their whole self fully online every day; a world where all feel free to uncover every rock, think from a world of possibility, test and learn to grow every day....this is where the hard work to drive transformational change lies....at the intersection of mind and heart.  
A.W (VP media account services)

My methodology integrates several coordinated pathways and all have deep roots in cutting-edge areas of organizational and human potential development as they do in some of the latest directions in cognitive science. An awesome, ground-breaking company requires awesome, upgraded leaders and so we need to draw on the latest developments out there. Much of my process is informed by the work I’ve been developing in my role as creator and head of a leading-edge, internationally-regarded, professional coach training program at the Human Potential Institute.

Alongside powerful 1-on-1 coaching I integrate many simple yet empirically-verified and highly-effective skills designed to help address some of the key issues raised by the increasing demands of high-pressure organizational and life environments— no matter what level of the foodchain we occupy!

Consider how stress, dysregulated focus and attention, poor communication, lack of energy regulation among others all play havoc both at work and home.


Any system under sustained attack and without a suitably resourced response mechanism is going to operate sub-optimally whether it's an individual's or organizational. The upgrade must also occur at multiple levels which is why we must tackle multiple aspects for integrated change.


We want to address all aspects in order to manifest whole leaders: ones who lead with mind, heart & body. One key tool for addressing many of the challenges above as well as bringing our full capacities online is that of mindfulness. Drawn from ancient contemplative practices this has rapidly morphed into a central component of employee well-being programs across the globe, with Silicon Valley stalwarts such as Apple and Google right through to industry leviathans such as General Mills running inhouse mindfulness programs as part of their internal offer. Aetna Insurance Chairman and CEO Mark Bertolini is quoted saying,

‘… the most stressed-out employees’ health care costs are $2,000 higher than average employees and ‘mindfulness’ benefits yield an 11-to-1 return on investment.’


Mindfulness training clearly offers huge benefits to any organization, plus it is also a key tool in any evolved leaders toolkit.


Research on the benefits of mindfulness has shown:


Improved cognitive function & flexibility

Greater ability for self-awareness & self-management

Improved communication

Greater productivity

Substantial improvements in Creativity

Greater resilience & emotional intelligence (eq)

Improved employer/employee & client relationships

Higher levels of job satisfaction & engagement

Substantial improvements in health

Lower absenteeism & turnover


Though mindfulness and attention training are key components, they’re far from the only skills on offer. Drawing from areas as diverse as current understandings in cognitive neuroscience, the cutting-edge world of biohacking and the work of organizational development leaders such as Silsbee and Otto Scharmer of MIT’s Sloan School of Management,


...my approach weaves simple yet scientifically-based, practical skills together to develop more engaged, resourceful, intuitive, intelligent, resilient, compassionate, creative and responsive leaders, teams and members of society.

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How Does It Happen?


There’s a few options for us to work together. Best is if we connect and set up a call to see if your needs and my skills are the right fit. I generally work one-on-one with key individuals or occasionally I run short programs with with small teams. Again please contact me to find out more about how each of these might look.

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