Public Health Leadership Skills: 6 Cs of Power Presence

The one, and most impactful leadership trait within your control is “your presence”.

Forbes applies four metrics: money, media mentions, impact and spheres of influence, to determine the overall rank for a list of 100 most powerful women leaders within their context of their field of work.

These are sound indicators of underlying and many a times hidden attributes and traits. We have been hearing that the 21st century challenges demand a new type of leadership. Organizations and countries are deemed to expand and diversify their employee talent. 

They will need people specially in public health sector who exude authority and authenticity and who attract followers.  

The leaders, when they speak, everyone will listen, when they present new approaches, others will jump on their wagon. 

The 21st  century challenges of health and development need leaders with an indispensable and indescribable “presence”. 

When we talk of someone who has Power Presence, it goes beyond their image, their speech, their social media audiences, and what they are doing within their communities. When we talk of someone with Power Presence, we talk about someone strongly connected with his or her inner intuition, someone who is deeply self-aware, gracious, compassionate and benevolent. People find it easy to connect with them, to be around them and interact with them. 

Power Presence is the essence of our future health leaders. It is an effective form of communication based on some key attributes, which can be developed and learned. Read on to learn about the attributes: 6 Cs of Power Presence  


You are composed when you are calm and in control of your state of mind and appearance. Firstly you are not easily angered but you also know when and how to show anger if needed. Your composure is a prerequisite to all leadership skills.  

Two greatest examples to learn about composure:

Surf Boarding.

If you are not a surf boarder then watching videos will help you to observe and learn what composure means. It’s about balance and flexibility.  

Bamboo plant.

Buy a bamboo plant and learn about it as you care for it. Bamboo is both flexible and elastic; it has higher flexural strength than wood. It is resilient and resists breaking under pressure.   


Confidence in yourself gives you the powerful entrance into a room. You exude reliability and trust. You are confident because you have learned to accept and trust yourself and have loads of self-control. The communities we live in and engage with are composed of diverse cultures and backgrounds, the importance of refining and developing Self cannot be overemphasized. As public health leaders we are called to be facilitators and catalysts without the overpowering control. 

Few steps to build or rebuild your self-confidence: 

  • Regularly Practice “Wonder Woman” / “Superman” pose for two minutes to elevate your self –confidence and image.
  • Recall a time when you performed a task extremely well or played a winning move. Identify what happened, how you felt, and what that experience was like. 
  • Think about a time when you felt physically attractive. Research shows that even thinking about a time when you felt physically attractive can increase your level of confidence 


It is the quality of being convincing or believable and it is founded on the attributes of trustworthiness and expertise.  Paying attention to your own speech pattern and being conscious of the way you use your language bears a huge impact on establishing your credibility. Words and speech patterns cannot be the same across all audiences, cultures and backgrounds. Wisely chosen words always give people the reason to believe in you. Credibility: How Leaders Gain and Lose It by Kouzes and Posner is a great book to read. 


Panta Rhei means everything or all things change. A Greek philosophy that change is the only constant in life is a key concept that every modern day leaders need to develop.

Whether it is changing your mind to form a new opinion or making a new decision, we as leaders must change for the better. We must be ready for constant improvement to move forward, lest we are forced to move backward. The ability to change gives us the chance to modify, to transform to exchange something for a better one.

Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King Junior are three leaders who changed themselves to change the world. They adopted peaceful activism and modified millions of minds and hearts. 


Learning to understand how others think and interact is the key link to broadening your connections. It increases your Power Presence and pays dividends by enhancing your credibility. Connecting with other like-minded people creates the wealth of social capital. It is a valuable use of your time and there is nothing more precious in today’s leadership environment. Connecting with people who may not be like-minded is also key to keeping yourself challenged and robust in your thinking and approaches.

A personal tip to building connections:

I am a global health professional but many times met people who did not have a health background or worked in the health sector. So I made it a habit to enter each conversation with the goal of finding something new that I could do for that person.  

Taking the focus off my elevator pitch, I focused on finding what interested them and how I could assist them for their interest. It has worked tremendously for me and dramatically improved my ability to connect with people external to my sector and organization.


The last big C is Charisma.

“A warm body language, an earnest physical expression, positive eye contact and a contagious smile are what makes me say. She has Charisma”

Many a time it is just taken as a divinely conferred power or talent. However you can learn to be charismatic and boost your Power Presence. A little modification to your behaviour adds to your Charisma. When you are approachable, personable, engaging and willing to talk to others and listen to them, you appear as charismatic. It is all about making others feel wonderful about themselves. 

Two simple tactics: 

  • Be mindful of your “wandering mind”. The human attention span is lower than the ill-focused goldfish. People lose concentration in 8 seconds or so and the mind tends to “wander” 47% of the time, you could be sitting in a meeting, a presentation or an event with a wandering mind. Honestly the online and virtual events due to COVID-19 are not helping – not being face 2 face decreases our concentration. Our bodies though do not know the difference and react to what the mind is telling them. When the mind wanders, our micro expressions change and we appear as disengaged and tuned out, both a big no no for maintaining your Power Presence.To build and maintain your Power Presence be aware and take a corrective action for the wandering mind.
  • Learn to be uncomfortable. Instead of avoiding what makes you uncomfortable, take yourself there intentionally. You will become a pro at handling inner discomfort and ready to face what you are not used to with grace and charisma. 

You may have some of the 6 Cs – nurture those.  Plan for your Power Presence by working on the rest starting with the one, which is weakest at this stage.


octobre 5, 2020


Zari Gill


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