[February 12, 2014] Poise is one of those senior leader characteristics rarely spoken about when discussing the important aspects of leadership. Yet, it is crucial for a leader to be dignified and self-confident in one’s composure. Possessing poise distinguishes the good leader from the great leader.
Poise is one of those traits that is developed only through experience and real world testing. For leaders, poise is not only the display of a cool and stable temperament under pressure but also maintaining a command presence and politeness in manners at the same time.
One of the lost traits in our society today is poise. Loss of poise among leaders also appears to be an unfortunate trend. Perhaps it is because declining respect in the workplace, but also I believe because of general intellectual laziness and a self-absorbed society. While there is little doubt about the trend, it is incumbent upon leaders to reverse it.
To learn to display poise, one must experience stress. There are small things in life that can help. For instance, keeping your head and remaining pleasant when in a traffic jam, when treated rudely, frustrated by your friends, being reprimanded at work, etc. On the other hand, showing poise when very important situations present themselves is also important. For example, one should demonstrate poise when losing your job or in an emergency. Difficult? Yes.
Earnest Hemingway described “courage” as “grace under pressure.” We can also say that “poise” is grace under pressure … without too much offense to Mr. Hemingway.
The best and greatest senior leaders posses poise. Those people that are with a leader are more apt to follow when the leader demonstrates poise in all circumstances.