Presence Puzzle Pieces: Affect & Effect

Leadership presence includes behavioral (doing) and non-behavioral (being) qualities (Kerns, 2019). Leadership effect and affect are great examples of how doing and being come together as powerful pieces of leadership presence.

Effect (noun): Something that inevitably follows an antecedent (such as a cause or agent); the quality or state of being operative; power to bring about a result.

Leadership Effect is what people/ followers/ team members do in response to one’s leadership presence. Leadership effect impacts a team “doings” in ways that can be positive or negative.

Affect (noun) : a set of observable manifestations of an experienced emotion : the facial expressions, gestures, postures, vocal intonations, etc., that typically accompany an emotion; the conscious emotion that occurs in reaction to a thought or experience.

Leadership Affect contributes to the emotional response that others have in experiencing one’s leadership presence. It’s what being in one’s leadership presence evokes. An emotionally intelligent leader is conscious of the power of their affect on relational dynamics. Leadership affect can also be positive or negative.

Ultimately, both affect and effect are about impact. In my experience, leaders are either very aware or completely unaware of their presence’s impact on emotions and/or responses. When our workplace cultures place a heavy emphasis on performance driven outcomes, it can be easy to dismiss the underlying affects and effects that may be at work just beneath the surface.

Questions to consider:

  1. How do you think people experience your affect?
  2. How would you describe your leadership effect?
  3. Think of one colleague you trust and respect. What do you think they’d say about your affect and effect? If possible, ask them! Feedback provides insight to our leadership blind spots.

Kerns, C. D. (2019). Leadership Presence at Work: A Practice – Oriented Framework. Journal of Marketing Development & Competitiveness, 13(3), 91–109.