We can always tell when someone has executive presence. Nonetheless, we have a hard time explaining what it is. The good news is that you can learn what it takes to have this leadership skill, and develop it.
Executive presence is an intangible, quite desirable, and valuable attribute in members of high-performance organizations (HPOs), that differentiates effective leaders from ineffective ones. Below you will discover more about this quality, why is it important, and how to train yourself!
What is Executive Presence?
Given that executives are those professionals who serve as authorities in any company, executive presence can be defined as the set of skills that make executives effective leaders. It is the ability to lead others and achieve results. It consists on how capable, consistent, and reliable you are to others under high-performing circumstances that require clear vision and guidance. It has nothing to do with your personality.
Is executive presence measurable? Yes, it is, by the likelihood of a group to follow your lead. This quality is composed by the following competencies and traits, all starting with the letter C:
- Communication skills
According to the research conducted by Tracom Group, 81% of human resources (HR) practitioners believe executive presence is easily spotted. Great leaders show it through their body language, eye contact, emotional intelligence, active listening, and tone of voice.
Why is Executive Presence so Important?
Through executive presence, leaders are able to understand their team members’ needs and how they relate to the company’s. It helps them improve their leadership skills. It is about influencing others, inspiring confidence, and driving results, which is why it matters so much in any leadership position.
Those around you wouldn’t be the only ones to benefit from your strong executive presence: Developing this set of skills gives you access to new opportunities. How? Your chances of getting or missing opportunities mostly depend on the confidence you inspire in decision-makers, such as senior executives or leaders. The bigger the opportunity, the bigger the role executive presence plays.
Your interpersonal skills will also benefit from executive presence as they will strengthen and help you navigate workplace politics. Promotions will come to you more easily!
Leaders with strong executive presence inspire others to behave and perform better according to the company culture. In simple words, it boosts employee morale, which simultaneously leads to lower turnover rates and improves overall organizational performance.
Other key benefits of developing executive presence skills and becoming a better leader are the following:
- Better interactions and relationships with customers, according to half of HR practitioners.
- Better team management
- A key element for developing effective leadership given its useful framework
- Access to promotions
- An edge over colleagues
Organizations, especially HPOs, invest in developing leadership qualities such as executive presence because these skills make them more competitive in their field. So, this is not only an individual quest but a corporate one, too!
How to Develop Executive Presence?
Anyone can develop executive presence skills, be it current leaders or those who show leadership potential. You just need commitment and training, as it is part of your professional development. Executive presence training includes stretch assignments, coaching, 360-degree feedback surveys, and formal training.
Mentors and executive coaches are the express lanes for executive presence training. Nonetheless, you can also do it on your own. Follow this step by step guide to help you develop your executive presence:
Develop your managerial vision
This consists of where you want to go—the big picture, details of your strategy, and how to communicate them in a motivating way to your team. Do so using simple language in a calm and confident way.
Be aware of how others perceive you
The way others perceive you is crucial, since you must project yourself as someone reliable and with experience. Use 360-degree feedback surveys to collect this information and improve your self-awareness. Learn more about this in this BetterUp's article.
Optimize your communication skills
Communicating goes beyond the tone of voice and choice of words. Use your body language to instruct others with a good attitude and in an inspirational way. Record yourself on video to practice.
Be the best listener
Yes, this improves your executive presence! By listening you validate your team members—in other words, you make them feel seen, heard, understood, and valued. Talk less, listen more, and ask great questions!
Improve your networking
Organizational politics are inherent to every company. Successful leaders and individuals with a strong executive leadership build and cultivate strong networks to influence and manage more effectively during conflicts.
Get used to working under stress
The right timing to gain respect and credibility is when pressure rises. How? By keeping calm to reassure your team. This way, you will think more clearly and manage the difficult situation more effectively.
Perfect your look
As you know and research confirms, first impressions matter. For the purpose of executive presence, individuals inspire confidence and empower others through their visual appearance. Make sure yours matches the setting and company culture you belong to. Be consistent.
Executive presence training requires hard work. So, focus and practice!
Seven Qualities that Create a Good Executive Presence
Think of the great leaders you look up to. Public speaking, decision-making, assertiveness, and communication style may be among the first traits that come to your mind. These, some previously mentioned, and the following will make you become an effective leader with strong executive presence:
This entails more than staying calm and cool under pressure. It is about knowing how to act rather than react. By staying collected, you will be able to think more clearly and respond more effectively to find adequate solutions. As a result, your team will feel reassured and calm!
Effective and empathetic communicators often have high emotional intelligence, which is the ability to identify, understand, and assess your own emotions and the ones of others. Compassion, self-awareness, authenticity, and intuition are forms of emotional intelligence.
Talking in front of an audience with no insecurities is key to having a leadership presence, and to pursuing any executive presence training. You need be able to capture and connect with your audience, whether it’s made up of your peers, subordinates, or senior leaders. Work on your body language, verbal articulation, and delivery.
Whether in writing, orally or any form of communication, you need to communicate clearly, concisely, and in a convincing way. This is all part of communicating effectively and achieving organizational goals. Clarity helps you connect with others and makes them act accordingly. Avoid fuzziness. Practice active listening to address others’ needs accurately.
Exude confidence, but in a quiet way. Avoid being loud. It takes more than charm and being extroverted to make others follow you. Contrary to what some people think, confidence comes from being humble. It is about communicating with others in a human way with emotional intelligence. More Gandhi, less Kim Kardashian.
Consistency is about standing by your convictions and staying true to your values. You become more relatable and trustworthy as you show your genuine self. It is about doing the right thing for the right reasons. People respect and trust those who do what they will say they do.
A Signature Style
Leaders with executive presence skills have their own, unique style. They avoid imitating or mimicking others. Be genuine and build your style based on this. Find your own way to show your signature style.
Do you now feel ready to spot executive presence and explain what it is? Implement the short guide we provided, you’ll be glad you did!