January 18, 2021

Executive Presence

Executive Presence is a competency becoming more and more relevant in the workplace. It is a concept thrown around by leaders, mentors, and executive management. But what is meant by Executive Presence and how do you know if you have it or what to do to get it?

Executive presence is the persona to inspire confidence. It means having the ability to inspire confidence in your team members and within your colleagues that you are the leader they want to follow because you are capable and reliable. It also shows senior leadership you have what it takes to cultivate great achievements through people and the organization. It is a skill one can cultivate and build.

Executive presence also takes an inward look at who you truly are. It is the perception of how people see you and is incredibly important for those conversations when you are not in the room. Opportunities gained and presented come from the confidence you have been able to inspire with decision-makers. The more significant the assignment or challenge, the greater need for executive presence becomes to be granted the opportunity becomes.

How do I know if I have it?

To determine if you possess this competency, ask. Ask your direct reports, in-direct reports, your peers, other colleagues, those with whom you respect, and senior leaders. Ask people for feedback not only in your organization but those with whom you work in other groups or clubs who may collaborate with you in a different manner. How you are seen by your in-direct reports may differ from how you are seen by senior leaders as well as how you are perceived from outside your organization.

Solicit feedback in an authentic and transparent manner. The method of 360 feedback can be quite helpful to determine how you are perceived by others regardless of your intent. This can cultivate awareness and provide significant insight how to grow and develop your personal brand. From this information, you can then create actionable items for yourself to enhance yourself in a multitude of ways.

What do I do to get/enhance my executive presence?

Start with your vision and how you have shared it with others. Whether it be your team or your peers, having a clear vision and articulating it well matter. In order to secure followers, your vision needs to be seen by others as the collective goal they can envision achieving with you. Providing this broad landscape helps your team and colleagues imagine their role in the process. Couple in meaning and purpose with your vision and your team can understand why they should join in on this journey with you. This is a very effective method when implementing change management.

Build your communication skills. Active listening and seeking to understand can put you at an advantage in this space because it allows you to engage with your full attention. Ask questions, engage others, explore ideas, and seek opportunities to encompass the whole group. Effective listening acknowledges individual contributors and can illicit collective buy-in as you are able to see things from a holistic perspective. It also double-checks how consumable the information you share is to the people receiving the message. Consumable information is the name of the game. How you present to your senior leaders will be different than how you communicate to your peers and followers. Take time to notice how you deliver information and take notice of the audience you present the information to in order to come across in a confident and reputable manner.

Take stock in who you are. Know how to keep your composure when in stressful situations and be conscious of your reactions when collaborating in a group dynamic or when receiving information. Not only is it important to clearly communicate through written and oral mediums, body language and energy can be seen as well as felt by those in a room. This holds true in a video conferencing standpoint as well. Learn to know what can cause you agitation and have tools handy in your mind for how to defuse these situations.

Remember, executive presence is like a muscle you can train. Provide yourself with the proper training and you can build upon this skill to create the confidence and charisma you desire both within and outside of the workplace. You can make positive changes to enhance how you are seen.

By: Claire Muselman, Director, The Workers’ Recovery Unit, Continental Western Group