Yes, it is hard to define “executive presence“; you know it when you see it. The Denver Post quoted Monster Worldwide, Inc. regarding the “Three skills companies say they are desperate to find in employees.” They listed:
1. Software engineering and development… particularly mobile applications.
2. Communication skills … ability to communicate effectively with clients and colleagues at all levels.
3. Executive presence … someone with confidence who can represent the company or their specific team [who] can confidently facilitate a conversation.
At Change Masters we help develop two of those critical skills. The impact of improved executive presence on one’s career can be dramatic. We have also defined executive presence in a way that is actionable and definable. They are detailed in our book, “Seeing Yourself as Others Do – Authentic Executive Presence at Any Stage of Your Career“:
COMMAND of the Room with Charisma
Some people own their space; projecting ease, warmth and capability. People observe your walk, posture, facial expression, vocal impact and dress quality to assess executive presence. They watch how you enter a room, sit in a chair and graciously interact with others. Command of the room with gracious charisma is the look and sound of confidence, conviction, and competence based on nonverbal behavior.
Achieving great results requires knowing how to influence others and also understanding the organization’s power and politics. The most influential leaders use influence without being seen as political. They know how to use the power they’ve been given in a values-based manner. Being an effective influencer with authentic political savvy is not an oxymoron. It’s achievable; and essential to your success.
EXPECTATIONS: Strategic and Tactical
Executive presence means you can move back and forth easily between strategic vision and tactical direction. Both need to be articulated well and connected continuously. Creating an engaging vision for a goal or project gives meaning to the tasks. Execution makes a strategic vision more real and relevant. Mastery of both allows you to create and capture value.
Presentations have changed the trajectory of many careers. Connecting with the audience is what makes the difference. Outstanding presentation skills can dramatically impact the direction and commitment of an organization. Formal and informal presentations of information are the moments in which people assess your capability. Even small-group presentations in front of the right audience can be pivotal. Maximizing your presentations dramatically increases your memorable executive presence.
RELATIONSHIP Competence, Locally and Remotely
Interpersonal skills have always been key to leadership success. Their importance has been increased by globalization, diversity, instantaneous communications and the expectation of 24/7 electronic interactions. The speed and access of communication has changed how we lead around the world, in different buildings, or across the table. We are all dependent on so many people to get our jobs done today. Managing relationships well can make or break your effectiveness.
Most executives think they are much better listeners than others do. Great listening is not just great hearing. The test of a good listener is whether the other person feels heard and understood. Several studies have identified listening as the most critical success factor for executives. You spend over half your day listening to others; you may as well be good at it.
INSPIRATION, Motivation and Praise
Praise and motivation matter. If you’re not consistently reinforcing what you expect, you won’t get what you expect. People deliver best when they feel valued and respected, no matter what pressures exist. To get the biggest impact for the praise you deliver, demonstrate honest warmth with engaged poise, because praise from you matters more than you know.