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In our first lesson, titled What is a Leader?, we learned several things doctors and health care workers can do to be more effective in helping people follow their medical advice. In this second lesson, we discuss the importance of how you are seen by those around you. Leadership presence is the message you communicate by the look on your face, the way you talk and how you treat people.

Look Like a Leader

Like it or not, the way we look influences the way people listen to us. It affects our ability to lead. If you are going to influence someone, it is very helpful to make a make a good first impression.

I am sure you have seen successful people walk into a room and quickly take control without saying anything. Just the way they move and act causes people to show respect. This is leadership presence. It is a mixture of confidence, appearance and actions that makes a person stand out in a crowd. Some people grow up with strong leadership presence. But most leaders develop it over time.

Leadership presence does not require movie-star looks. Mother Theresa was a small, wrinkled, old woman who dressed in simple clothes and was never mistaken for royalty. But in caring for the poorest of the poor in India, she had a radiant presence. Her passion for her work was so strong that she could confidently approach world leaders for money to run her mission. She also had a wonderful sense of humor that added to her personal warmth.

Act Like a Leader

As a doctor or health care worker, you will be more successful if you act like a good leader.

  • Treat patients and co-workers with politeness and respect
  • Be kind and understanding
  • Listen and ask questions
  • Show interest in what people are saying
  • Speak slowly and clearly so you can be easily understood

When you meet people, show enthusiasm, strength and energy. Be active, alert and bright-eyed. When people believe you are truly interested in them, they will be more willing to follow your guidance and instructions.

Be Positive

Learn how to make a positive impression wherever you are and whatever you are doing. Good leaders try to make a difference by being a positive force in the world. Instead of complaining, they think cheerful thoughts as they work through difficult challenges.

Several simple techniques can help anyone be more positive and effective as a leader:

  • Smile — It improves your mood and makes others smile. People often respond to smiles with friendliness and generosity.
  • Radiate Confidence — Show positive energy in your communication. Stand upright with good posture, use a firm handshake, have a calm appearance, and use appropriate eye contact.
  • Dress Right — You do not have to dress like James Bond, but dress appropriately for the occasion. You will gain more respect, which can make you feel and act more empowered.
  • Say Something Nice — Every day you have a new opportunity to say some kind words. Making someone feel better boosts your positive energy and the way you feel about yourself.
  • Increase Positive Relationships — Surround yourself with positive, supportive people. Negative, grumbling complainers will have a poor effect on your outlook and your ability to lead.

People are watching you. When little things go wrong, do not get angry or upset. If you do not agree with what someone is saying, be polite and do not argue. Let them speak so you understand their point of view. Then consider their opinion and suggest other options. But do not try to push your own ideas down their throats.

Be Friendly

Learn how to bring out the best in people around you. Build up their confidence and make them feel good. Do not criticize, condemn or complain, but be genuinely interested in them. And remember, true love and appreciation for others is the real key to having strong leadership presence.


If you want to be an effective leader, practice the actions and attitudes in this lesson. Watch the people you admire and respect as leaders and learn from them. Doing so will help you gain the presence to stand out in a crowd.

Use Leadership Skills for Good

As you become a more effective leader, use your influence to show people how to live healthier, happier lives. Gently show your friends, family and people in your care that cigarette smoke is full of poison. Click here to see the amount of poisonous tar the average smoker sucks into his or her lungs each year. Explain how these deadly poisons cause many diseases that kill millions of people each year. By your example, show that there is a better way to live and offer to help—if people around you want to make a change.

We ask you to kindly invite your friends and colleagues to join our Leadership Club. By working together, we can make a big difference in the fight against smoking.

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