Marykate Morse’s book, Making Room for Leadership: Power, Space, and Influence, provides actionable advice for exerting influence over others to achieve intended results. “Leadership is not something produced for certain occasions and specific roles. Leadership happens all the time, and it happens when we use our bodies to influence others.” A good leader uses power effectively and influences others in a positive direction. While many books address leadership traits, this book dives into the specific ways that we can act and behave in order to catalyze a group toward change.
Power is a tool or means through which people get work completed and achieve goals. Leadership books often emphasize traits like gaining consensus, being a servant, and keeping a humble attitude. When we speak of power, we often equate this to negative attributes, as in being conceited or arrogant. Yet, “Power is God’s gift. Powerlessness is not a virtue; rather, using power to help the powerless is. This is the true meaning of servant leadership. Jesus modeled this use of power over and over. If each member of his body is bold enough to use his or her power for good, then the negative use of power will become less frequent in the church and in the world.” In the secular world, I’ve seen power at play in a variety of ways and settings. It is typically obvious when someone uses power to attain their personal objectives, but it is the leaders who know how to tap into their power for the greater good that are able to accomplish amazing things. Often times, people use power to compete with others. As I’ve worked in Christian organizations, I’ve noticed that many in leadership roles back away from leading. They don’t want to be seen as competitive or overbearing. In each of these spaces, the role of leadership is often defined through our false perceptions of how leaders should act and behave. Competition can be both healthy and destructive. I Corinthians 9:24 says “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it.” It is a human trait that God has blessed man with in order to help him move forward or pursue excellence. Unhealthy competition can lead to destruction. 2 Timothy 2:5 reminds us that, “an athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules.” Competition is unhealthy when individuals put their own goals over the greater goals of a company or team. They seek self-satisfaction at the expense of others, and are willing to make shortcuts or to break the rules in order to win. This can lead to unethical actions or even bring harm to an organization or others. Healthy competition may lead to benefit for the individual, but it also promotes positive interaction with others and encourages them to work to their best ability. Philippians 2:3-4 says to “do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you not only look to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” Healthy competition is derived from right intentions and attitudes. Matthew 6:33 tells us to “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” We must focus on Christ and follow His Word to ensure our actions and behaviors are in alignment with Scripture. When we do this, we aren’t focused on personal gain and our efforts will bring honor to Christ, and benefit organizations and others. With this in mind, many leaders struggle with being competitive and asserting power in a manner that honors Christ. They attempt unhealthy means to get others to accept their ideas. When we sense how power plays out in situations, or spaces, we can more effectively influence for Christ. “How leaders use power in close quarters is a more significant indication of integrity than what they do or say from a pulpit or speaker’s platform.”
Having presence is something that connects us to others in a relational way. Morse uses Princess Diana as an example of one who had the capacity to attract others toward herself and her beliefs. She calls this the “it” factor. “Presence is deeply connected to power. The more presence you have, the more influencing capacity you have. People with presence have the ability to walk into a room and get the attention and respect of its occupants.” They don’t need to compete with others in an unhealthy manner, as their very presence speaks into the space. Jesus used his presence to influence others. “Presence is the visual and visceral effect our bodies have on others. Those with a strong presence are instinctively given more power to influence.”  “Creating presence isn’t about glitzy manipulation for personal benefit. It’s about attentive awareness for the benefit of others. Deciphering presence gives us another resource for taking responsibility for the power that comes with it. The human body is part of the leadership process. It cannot be ignored, especially in group settings.”  Personally, the concept of presence has been very real. Being a 4’11’’ female, I’ve been in business situations where I’ve struggled to gain influence or to share my knowledge. Over the course of my career, I’ve adjusted the way that I interact in a physical space, the way that I dress, and my demeanor in order to be more effective with the information I am presenting. I’ve had comments as “you are so young”, which often equates to a lack of wisdom or knowledge in some people’s eyes. Recently, a business associate asked me if I knew how disarming my presence was. This was the first time that I had been told this, and it came as a surprise. Being aware of this, I was able to use this trait in a difficult business meeting a few days later. I was able to influence the direction and outcome of the discussion. I’ve realized that having presence is something that I need to more intentionally work toward. To be the leader that Christ calls me to be, I must strategically learn to use my physical body and space to more fully reflect Christ to others and to motivate people and situations into a positive direction. Pope Francis said, “We must always walk in the presence of the Lord, in the light of the Lord, always trying to live in an irreprehensible way.” This is the starting point for gaining true power and presence that allows us to be influential and effective leaders.
 MaryKate Morse. Making Room for Leadership: Power, Space and Influence (Kindle Locations 146-147). Kindle Edition.
 MaryKate Morse. Making Room for Leadership: Power, Space and Influence (Kindle Locations 518-520). Kindle Edition.
 MaryKate Morse. Making Room for Leadership: Power, Space and Influence (Kindle Locations 680-682). Kindle Edition.
 MaryKate Morse. Making Room for Leadership: Power, Space and Influence (Kindle Locations 734-736). Kindle Edition.
 MaryKate Morse. Making Room for Leadership: Power, Space and Influence (Kindle Locations 801-803). Kindle Edition.
 MaryKate Morse. Making Room for Leadership: Power, Space and Influence (Kindle Locations 837-839). Kindle Edition.