More recently I've drawn on this training to incorporate these traits into characters. Write what you know, indeed. :)
Command presence can manifest as a personality trait in an MC, a secondary character, even a villain, in how their words, actions and attitudes are framed. It isn't haughtiness, superiority or conceit. It's more about how a character projects themselves and how it's perceived by others.
A person who demonstrates command presence instills confidence and trust in their companions. They control the situation in the face of threat or disaster and in the presence of a threatening foe, or even a superior. He/she is looked to as the natural leader, the go-to person, or the one who calls the shots, even though they may not be the highest ranking person present.
Often, the sense of command presence is established by a calm and
unruffled tone that demonstrate "grace under fire." Occasionally it has to be backed up with a show of force, either physically or strategically.
Command presence often involves "command voice," which is assuming a calm, confident tone that radiates authority in times of stress or jeopardy.
Command presence doesn't mean a character is too perfect, only that they have the ability to emote leadership. But it's much like acting. No character can be on stage indefinitely. His/her vulnerabilities will (and should) eventually show. So command presence is akin to turning on a light when it's needed, and knowing how long it should shine to accomplish the goal...and when it needs to go dark.
I have a few 'go to' characters that I invoke when writing scenes where my hero or heroine must exhibit command presence. For males, two favorites are Captain Jean Luc Picard (Star Trek: TNG) or Captain Ramius (Hunt for Red October).
For females, I often draw on Ellen Ripley (Aliens) or Ana Lucia Cortez (LOST).
Here are a few examples of other well-known characters with command presence drawn from cinema and television. Each of these characters are perceived as leaders or authority figures, though each demonstrates these attributes in very different ways.
+ Aragorn (LoTR)
+ George McClintock (McClintock)
+ Captain Malcolm Reynolds (Firefly/Serenity)
+ Harry Callahan (Dirty Harry)
+ Lindsey Brigman (The Abyss)
+ Corporal Dwayne Hicks (Aliens)
+ The Fonz (Happy Days)
+ Sarah Connor (Terminator 2)
+ Jack Riley (Patriot Games)
+ Glinda (Wizard of Oz)
What other stand out characters can you think of who exhibit command presence? Leave a comment to tell us about some of your favorites from books, TV, movies...or life. If you're a writer or author, feel free to share a snippet from your work of a character exhibiting command presence.