You may need these executive presence tips to garner the venture capital for your start-up, motivate your employees or simply to gain that long overdue promotion. How important is executive presence? Credentials alone will not necessarily get you the next big opportunity, so you will also need executive presence – the ability to signal confidence and credibility.
Do you exude confidence and credibility? Can you command a room? The good news is that executive presence is eminently teachable. You can learn how to “show teeth” while remaining likable, and you can teach yourself how to dress appropriately while staying true to yourself. You don’t have to be born with the voice of James Earl Jones or the looks of Angelina Jolie to hurdle the executive presence bar.
In a survey of CIOs, conducted by Gartner, executive presence was second on the list of the top 20 leadership traits that make a difference. By comparison, technology skills ranked 12th.
What is Executive Presence?
Executive presence is more a measure of your image rather than performance; it is the manner in which you signal to others that you “have what it takes” to be star material. You might have the qualifications to be considered for your dream job, but you won’t get far unless you can signal that you’re “leadership material” and that you “have what it takes.” Professionals are judged on presence as well as on performance. Author, Sylvia Hewlett, points out that there are three key factors to executive presence:
• How you act (gravitas)
• How you speak (communication)
• How you look (appearance)
Of these three ingredients, gravitas is said by senior leaders to be by far the most important, followed by communication and then by appearance. However, appearance and communication tend to be significant factors in assessing a person’s gravitas. Projecting confidence, displaying “grace under fire”, tone of voice, body language and eye contact are all important ingredients of gravitas.
7 Executive Presence Tips
1. Carry yourself with confidence. Your posture, how well your groomed, personal poise, attention to social graces and how you dress are all part of how you carry yourself. Make eye contact without being confrontational or intimidating.
2. Communicate clearly and listen attentively. Those who listen attentively and can communicate succinctly, particularly when they have a good command of vocabulary, will inspire confidence and trust in others.
3. Demonstrate your competence by bringing clarity to challenges. Confusion is an opportunity for genuine leadership and success. Embrace challenges without being domineering or confrontational.
4. Lead by example. Use examples from your past to demonstrate how you have been successful with people and unique challenges. Boasting is not acceptable, but telling stories of how you worked with others in a leadership position is welcomed.
5. Clearly pin point sources of problems and articulate how they could be best resolved. Leaders and great executives have the ability to discover the sources of problems. Only then do they develop workable processes, policies and programs to deal with these underlying situations. They rarely panic, but they always bring order to what confounds many others.
6. Show empathy, but do not be soft towards bad behavior. Compassionate people who are strong willed always inspire confidence and a “can do” attitude in others. Complimenting others for good behavior and accomplishment will also increase your executive presence.
7. Be willing to take a strong stand on contentious issues. Most individuals shirk or avoid tough issues. They do not like to find themselves in confrontational situations. Leaders and great executives thrive in this type of element, as these know that tough times require a strong stand to resolve them completely. Persistence and fortitude will increase your executive presence in the eyes of others.
I hope you find these executive presence tips helpful and useful.