Leadership Presence

conversations that develop whole, embodied leaders & cultures


"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

At all levels of organizations, ever greater demands are being placed upon us to manage ever greater levels of complexity, depleting critical resources such as attention, focus, energy, health, relational & cognitive capacities and more. Equally, all too often the old methods prove to be no longer fit for purpose. The negative downstream effects of it all on creativity, communication, innovation, motivation, productivity, well-being and ultimately bottom-line become inevitably apparent throughout the organizational ecosystem.

Clearly, an evolution of skillsets is required to optimally meet these new circumstances—as leaders, as teams and as individuals.

Yet what are these upgraded skillsets?


Change is so often attempted as a top down process, perhaps by mandating it from above (ie. executive decision), acquiring some shiney new techniques and still others try acting like they want to become in the hope that they'll magically transform into some new kind of evolved person or manifest a whole new situation. While these strategies may even offer some temporary impressions of shift, real transformation never happens at the program level.

The well-worn grooves of habit, the ingrained ruts of our conditioned neurobiology, and the systemic conditioning will still be deeply committed to the old ways of operating, and inevitably that programming wins out over any new resolutions no matter how ardent.

Developmental psychologist Robert Kegan from the Harvard Graduate School of Education describes this built in effect as an 'immunity to change'. System program ultimately overrides top-down decision.


We clearly need a strategy that works on a systemic level, but what? 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 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.

— Anna W. (Fortune 100, Senior VP)

My approach draws on cutting-edge research from areas such as human development and cognitive science as it does the time tested skills coach professional coaching. An awesome, ground-breaking company requires awesome, upgraded leaders and this means drawing upon and integrating the most current developments out there. I've coached clients for almost two decades now and trained thousands of coaching industry professionals, created and led internationally-regarded, professional coach training programs in Europe and the USA and I'm also actively involved in coaching research and publishing papers along that way. I know my methods work.

Alongside all the coaching skills and the possibility of upgrading their personal and professional skillsets, I offer leaders a space where they can come and share their whole selves. All too often I work with folk who most of all need a place where they can truly be themselves and simply lay out their thoughts, opinions, fears, aspirations and hopes without being judged, critiqued or someone trying advise or fix them. While I know we all may need to acquire some new skills, I also know that all my clients are extremely capable and often simply need a space where they can get their ideas out and have some support to explore them.


Leadership Presence combines transformative coaching conversations with simple, scientifically-based, practical skills to support more creative, resourceful, resilient and emotionally intelligent leaders, teams and organizations.


Reach out if you'd like to know more or perhaps visit my consultancy Howorth Francis to see the other organizational programs I'm involved in.



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