The Hidden Power of Presence

Jaclyn Crawford Foresight, Guest Post, Leadership 1 Comment

Executive leadership coach, Sara Harvey Yao, explains  how to be a champion in the board room

In the aftermath of the Championship win of the Seattle Seahawks, high-performers of every kind are looking to the Seahawks for their secret to success.  Champions on the field and the boardroom should take a page from Coach Pete Carroll’s playbook and learn that the power of presence is the foundation for success.

The power of being present in the moment is the single biggest contributor to achieving breakthrough results.  When a leader is truly present, drama, trauma, and chaos dissolve to reveal the power of calm, ease, and clarity.  Better yet, when an entire team is present together, magic happens.  Top performers show up at their authentic best, tune into the unspoken dynamics of the situation, and make quick, effective and precise decisions. Rework and confusion go down and productivity goes up.

We are living in a time when technology and information are moving faster than the speed of light. When leaders fail to be present, they can lose footing and become reactive, overwhelmed or myopic and costly mistakes can be made. Although it seems counter-intuitive, remaining present in the moment is the most efficient and effective way to approach the challenges of business.  It is key for leaders to learn to quiet their minds so they can precisely and effectively navigate the challenges ahead.  Presence cultivates resilience and wisdom – traits every great leader possesses.

With the Seattle Seahawks as inspiration, here are key lessons every leader – no matter on or off the field – needs to know about the power and practice of presence:

Presence Helps You Respond Effectively

Seattle Seahawks Quarterback Russell Wilson stated in a post-game interview that his secret to success is being present.

When leaders are present, they bring calm, relaxation, and focus to every situation.  They are quick, agile and ready to respond to anything being thrown their way – just like Russell Wilson.

Presence Gets Noticed

In Richard Sherman’s blog post, “10 Things I Learned After America Learned About Me,” he said “This stage is much bigger than I thought it was.”

When you are a leader, your presence is constantly being observed.  Your reactions, words, and decisions are being evaluated. It’s easy to forget that your mere presence as a leader has an impact. Sherman evaluated the impact his NFC Championship Game rant had on the world.  A good leader should always reflect and ask, “Is my presence having the impact I intend?”

Presence Takes Practice.

Coach Pete Carroll relies on Mike Gervais, a high performance sports psychologist, to help the players develop the mental side of the game.  Wilson has regular, private sessions with Gervais and says “We talk about being in the moment and increasing chaos throughout practice, so when I go into the game, everything is relaxed.”

When leaders experience so much pressure from external forces, it’s imperative they build a foundation of presence to stay calm, resourceful and objective.  Training your mind to stay calm requires as much practice as any other aspect of your performance.

Presence First, Strategy Second – When Pete Carroll was asked about how he strategized for the big game, he said he didn’t really think about game prep as a strategy.  Instead he said, “We just played the way we always play.”  Carroll focused all season to train the players’ minds and muscles.  Eventually he can rely on the players knowing what to do without having to think it through.

That’s the hallmark of presence.  When a leader is truly present — assuming proper preparation — that leader can walk into the room, take a breath and respond effectively in the moment.


092_sara_yao_lowres_b (1)Executive Leadership Consultant Sara Harvey Yao guides executives to strengthen their executive presence, improve their impact, and create more ease in their lives.  The author of Get Present: Simple Strategies to Get Out of Your Head and Lead More Powerfully, she is also the founder of Yao Consulting. Harvey Yao has coached more than 3,500 leaders around the globe including executives from Microsoft, Coinstar and Brooks Sports.  She welcomes speaking engagements to deliver the Get Present message to conferences and workshops.  Get in touch to discuss your needs and also access The Whole Leader podcast to gain insight about leading and living with greater presence and impact today at


Comments 1

  1. Britton Bigby

    posted and shared on LinkedIn. 🙂
    Go girl! Although I don’t find myself in a board room much, this still translated to the ‘meeting room’ for me.

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