When you think of celebrities like former NBA All-star Dennis Rodman or the Grammy Award winning Lady Gaga, what comes to mind? I’m almost certain it isn’t conservatism. Two things that Rodman and Gaga have in common are: 1. A track record of success in their respective industries and 2. An optimal spot on the Perceived Weirdness Index (PWI). Many leaders and change agents share these same qualities. Let’s explore the power of the PWI, Presence and the most optimal calibration of the two.

The Perceived Weirdness Index (PWI)

The Perceived Weirdness Index (PWI) is a gauge of how different one is in relation to the system. In Dennis Rodman’s case the system would be the National Basketball Association and for Lady Gaga, the Recording Academy. The level of difference that is considered tolerable in a system is often a function of what that person has accomplished. Basically, the better you are at what you do the more room you have to be weird. Because Rodman was one of the best defensive players in the NBA during his reign, his nightly hair color changes and unconventional behavior were accepted. Lady Gaga’s elaborate wardrobe, make-up and theatrics only add to her allure. Her numerous award nominations and wins speak to her talent as a singer, musician and performer.

Having an optimal spot on the PWI isn’t only for eccentric basketball players and musicians. Leaders have an opportunity to model unconventional ways of being and thinking in service to their organizations. Winston Churchill once said, “Show me two men who think exactly alike and I’ll show you one man I don’t need.” As a leader, quirkiness, awareness and most of all presence can enhance and transform teams, empower staff, and reinforce a productive and nurturing organizational culture…if you work it.

Pssst. Hey weirdo! Your difference is directly linked to your presence.


Presence is the translation of personal appearance, values, knowledge and reputation into interest and impact. Presence is not manufactured and everyone has it to use.

Presence is intentional being. The most effective leaders are aware of self and others and selectively use that awareness to advance their missions and visions.

Where do you fall on the index? Here are a few competencies associated with Presence:

  • Stating things succinctly, clearly, and directly.
  • Attending to your own experience of feelings, sensations, and thoughts, and selectively sharing them
  • with team members and/or staff.
  • Being aware of your intentions at any moment; being clear about the priorities of the work.
  • Making quality connections with those impacted by your actions;
  • Modeling clear and permeable boundaries and influencing dialogue.
  • Using metaphors to paint a verbal picture.
  • Appreciating the quality of good breathing and body centering to support yourself and others.

Presence + PWI = an optimal calibration for leaders

Change takes place at the intersection of what is familiar and what is different. Leaders, this applies to your team too. The optimal calibration means you can’t be too weird or different and you can’t betoo cookie-cutter or familiar (Remember the Winston Churchill quote?). Making the most of your “Perceived Weirdness” requires awareness, intent, and timing.

As you take the time to build a platform of credibility, assess your skills and strengths and actively begin cultivating your presence picture your magical weirdo guides Lady Gaga and Dennis Rodman cheering you on :).