Standing Out Among other Leaders, develop your Executive Presence

Standing Out Amongst other Leaders

Some people have an aura. Some people command a room’s attention effortlessly. Some people speak in a manner that inspires all those around them. They seem to have something special, a skill that was honed over the years or an inherited talent. In his black turtlenecks and blue jeans, Steve Jobs commanded every floor and dais that he graced.  The chances are that you have a mentor who shares the same quality and it attracted you towards them.

Understanding Executive Presence

Known by many terms, this quality is called an executive presence. Sometimes, it is built consciously by leaders over a period, but many times come from the experience of leading people. An executive presence is an innate ability of a leader to command attention, inspire people, engage them in meaningful dialogue and move them to act.

As a new leader, one might wonder how does one develop this skill. Leadership can be equal parts exciting and be intimidating at times. It comes with the responsibility of motivating people and making it seem effortless. Positively influencing people as a leader can be difficult initially but it is possible to develop an executive presence over a period by inculcating some new ways and habits. These changes will help you join the ranks of leaders who are revered and remembered by many.

Being Self-aware

Self-awareness will help you come to terms with yourself. It will help you understand your leadership style, your strengths. By knowing yourself, you will have a better understanding of what needs to change and why.  Self-awareness while making these changes to your personality ensures that when you make these changes, you do it with conviction and belief. As you change, your presence and self-confidence will increase.

Self Confidence

Real presence cannot be achieved without self-confidence. Your lack of confidence will radiate in the room, the same way confidence does, in many ways, such as body language. Body language and mannerisms subconsciously affect others perception of you. Being a leader, projecting confidence through your body language and mannerism is an essential part of having an executive presence. Our personalities manifest through many small characteristics. A few essentials changes should be made while developing an executive presence as these affect other’s perception of you. An easy way to exude confidence and authority is by maintaining a calm presence along with eye contact with your audience. Be comfortable in silence as it denotes self-assurance.

Clarity, Calmness, and Composure

Showcase clarity of thought and composure by being concise in your communication. As you move up the ladder, your team will look up to you for guidance and inspiration. A crucial part of having an executive presence is showing your competence by communicating appropriately with confidence. While speaking, think of the big picture, talk about strategic plans and always add something of value to the conversation. Avoid phrases that suggest uncertainty and doubt maintain a positive appearance.

Avoid Over Speak

This may sound counter-intuitive, given that many leaders would feel the need to speak up, and be heard, always! Hold that urge to provide inputs or your perspective, depending on the situation. Our urge to appear to know more always can erode our presence. There are situations where understanding and silence show presence, and the only reason to speak would be to seek more clarity.

Create Connections

Beyond the content and the clarity of your thoughts, a strong executive presence needs to be able to connect with those around them. The foundation of connecting with people effectively is listening to people intently, ensuring that everyone gets a chance to speak and paying attention when they talk.

In meetings and boardrooms, there will always be volatile situations where you, as a leader, will have to intervene. Be calm and composed in these moments of volatility and temper. A leader with an executive presence has to be trustworthy, impartial and receptive. In such moments, strike the vital balance between logic and emotion.

Get Feedback

To grow as a leader and a person, it is essential to get feedback. Getting authentic feedback as a leader can be difficult. But without constructive criticism, it is impossible to improve your executive presence and leadership style. At such a time, it is vital to approach your mentors and peers to enlist their opinion. Be open to what they have to say and move forward without assumptions. From their word, get the training and coaching to hone your skills.

Be Authentic

While the mentioned points will contribute significantly to your executive presence, it is important to remember that none of this can be successful without your touch. Without authenticity, it is impossible to create a bond of honesty and trust with your employees. Use these pointers to accentuate your ability, skills, vision, and authenticity.  Adapt them to your unique personality and devise a leadership style that works the best for you.

Senior consultant Rajeev Shroff manages Cupela, a platform for Transformational Coaching and Consulting, which works with leading organizations in India.