Authoritative leaders are skilful in nurturing relationships whilst building a learning culture that demands excellence. However, as leadership in schools becomes increasingly complex, the ability of leaders to develop relationships whilst demanding excellence is difficult. This article presents research from a mixed methods study that identified the notion of authoritative leadership as an important element in Leadership for Learning (LfL). Having examined the data to understand the extent to which authoritative leadership was evident in schools, the analysis revealed two characteristics of this leadership style where the research sites differed substantially. The findings highlight the need for authoritative leaders to develop supportive relationships and, have a positive influence upon the schools climate and culture. Ultimately, when these two characteristics of authoritative leadership were evident in schools, the study revealed that teacher agency was enhanced. The article identifies the notion of presence as an overarching quality of authoritative leaders seeking to influence learning in their schools.