Martial Arts and a Key Component of Leadership
The Key Component of Leadership
Command presence is when you have the ability to step in front of a group of individuals and they instantly know that you are in charge, and thus is a key component of leadership. It’s important to understand this idea and how it relates to developing leadership for kids and adults.
In the case of an emergency scene, it’s your ability to exhibit self-control while in the midst of total chaos. You could call it chaos control. In a non-emergency environment, such as a Dojo (a place of learning martial arts), it’s when you present yourself as someone in authority, who is trusted and respected.
Most of the time, we hear talk of the command presence of chief instructional officers of the Dojo and even of Yudansha students who act as event and class commanders. But every Dojo member is an officer of the school in some capacity and must learn and practice a command presence both in the emergency (an actual threat in real life) and non-emergency environment (the daily workings of life). This can be accomplished by how you present yourself, how you look, how you act or carry yourself, and how you communicate.
“You can pretend to care, but you can’t pretend to be there,” Bix Bender writes in his book, “Don’t Squat With Yer Spurs On!” He’s describing a vital feature of leadership: command presence. Command presence is not about control, it’s about connecting. More important, it’s not about power, it’s about partnership. Usually, we hear more descriptions of a lack of command presence: talking loud, shouting orders, coming across as demanding or controlling, and maybe the use of profanity to emphasize a point.
Sometimes we see unusual behavior, such as running around in circles without accomplishing anything. When a company officer, who is in charge of the troops in the trenches where the action is, lacks a command presence, he will lose his ability to control his company. This could be the cause of an injury or possibly death, and it will definitely lead to ineffectiveness at the emergency scene.
How You Present Yourself is Everything
“Chieftains must be credible. Their words and actions must be believable to both friend and foe. They must be trusted to have the intelligence and integrity to provide correct information. Leaders lacking in credibility will not gain proper influence and are to be hastily removed from positions of responsibility, for they cannot be trusted.” — Wess Roberts, Leadership Secrets of Attila the Hun.
How You Look
Every time you step in front of a group of people, they are trying to figure out who you are. They are looking at your personal appearance. They’ll be asking themselves questions such as:
Are you dressed in the proper uniform?
Do you stand straight and look confident?
Do you look organized and prepared?
Do you look professional?
Being aware and taking pride in your appearance will help to project a command presence to a group.
How You Act
Your physical presence is an attribute that can allow you to occupy space without creating tension. It can draw people to listen to you and follow you. That self-confidence is projected through your body language and how you carry yourself. You have to move with intent. In other words, you must impart the physical presence of a person with purpose, one who is in charge of the situation. You need to project an image of someone who knows where they are and what they are doing. So, knowledge, skills, and abilities in the areas that you are supervising or commanding are essential to exhibiting a command presence.
How You Communicate
Communication, as we all know, is usually the vital link to any successful endeavor. Sometimes, depending on the people or the situation, it may require more than just simple directions. The real hope of a good supervisor or commander is to instill, over time, a philosophy or a social norm within his crew. This will provide a clear understanding of the supervisor’s expectations both on and off the battlefield.
A Continuous Learning Process
Command presence does not come with the badge of rank or any amount of accolades; it must be developed through training and education, observed by watching others, and absorbed through hands-on experiences. It is a continuous learning process and should be part of the professional development of every Bushin Ryu Budoka.
A lack of command presence can be hazardous to both people and organizations, and will definitely lead to ineffectiveness. Command presence is just as essential to controlling the growth of an organization as it is controlling the groups and individuals growth of its people. So be part of the solution to controlling the emergency scene as part of your growth as a Budoka and not the other which would be to serve as a link to the chaos. Controlling emergency scene chaos through command presence will provide confidence and credibility to those you’re responsible for, as well as for your Dojo and its community.
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