Executive influence and presence are not tangible. You may not be able to touch it, but you can see and sense it. Even a lack of executive influence and presence will have your inner bells ringing loud and clear. It is actually quite thrilling to be around someone who can influence a crowd effortlessly. You almost want to rub shoulders with them, hoping that some of their presence rubs off on you.
Executive presence matters. An HCI report reveals 51% of HR professionals surveyed believe executive presence accelerates careers by making candidates stand out from the rest. Further, 77% believe people with executive presence advance more quickly in their careers. Isn’t that payoff worth the effort to improve your executive presence?
So how do you develop your executive presence? Here are four key elements you need to be conscious of in your interactions.
Success doesn’t happen in a week, a month or even a year. Working smart and making good business decisions will go a long way in how you are perceived. Don’t cut corners, be a little bit courageous and go the extra mile if it will get you noticed. Always be solution focused and maintain a clear vision. Allow for some flexibility or at the very least, a plan B and C just in case things go awry. Take the initiative often and familiarise yourself with the people around you. Demonstrate your value to your team and superiors consistently. Build connections that will propel you forward and network, network, network. Relationships can be extremely complex so acquaint yourself with at least one person in the room every time to give you something to work with. Let people know who you are to create a lasting impression.
Communication is more than just speaking well. It is understanding how to be concise with your words to maintain attention. Perfect the art of active listening, dabble in small talk and be aware how to proactively move a conversation forward to get to the main points. Try to think on your feet for a seamless flow in conversation. Be energetic with your speech but don’t rush through your words. Be confident in your stance and watch your body language as it is often the thing that can let a person down. Practice empathy without over-familiarisation so you have a handle on your inner workings and those of others. It is no secret that engaged people are engaging just like a confident person inspires confidence. Good qualities can be contagious when presented well.
Your executive influence and presence are only as good as your organisation skills. Commit to your plans and follow through. Be reliable. Never underestimate how much a good reputation can open doors for you. You may notice that people with executive presence tend to always have an answer close to hand. That is not because they are winging it (at least not 100% of the time) but because they are well prepared. You won’t win any brownie points for procrastination. Be an asset in a situation and hold yourself accountable if you miss the mark. If you continuously stick to your core values and inner truth, then you don’t have to constantly worry about what you say to who, as your motives never change. Authenticity is a very attractive quality in leaders.
Emotional intelligence or emotional quotient (EQ) needs to be balanced to be able to present yourself favourably. Decisions need to be based on facts rather than emotions to be productive. Model the behaviour you want to see from your team and try to always focus on the positive. Try to be positive even when things are slipping sideways. Know your weak points and try hard to change your responses. If something didn’t go well, analyse how you could improve and then consistently work to overcome it. Hold the mirror up to yourself, listen and learn. If you can successfully manage yourself then you can successfully manage and ultimately influence others.
The good news is that you can learn to develop executive influence and presence through perseverance and self-reflection. Athena Leadership Academy’s Online programs include a workshop directly addressing Executive Presence and how to build it. You will soon reap the rewards of the time and effort you invest into developing this career-critical leadership element. Would you like to know more? Reach out and let’s discuss the ways we can help you.