Executive Presence – Do you command the room?

What is Executive Presence or Leadership Presence?

These days leadership presence (also called executive presence) is a buzzword in corporate circles. And whatever it is, it matters! In a survey of 268 senior executives by the Center for Talent Innovation, those surveyed said that “executive presence” counts for 26% of what it takes to get promoted.

In “Understanding executive presence: Perspectives of business professionals,” researcher, executive coach and psychologist, Gavin Dagley, says, “A person with executive or leadership presence is someone who, by virtue of the effect he or she has on an audience, exerts influence beyond that conferred by formal authority.”

I agree with Mr. Dagley: Executive presence means you have influence over people. This influence comes from your ability to be fully present under pressure, radiating the best qualities of your authentic self.  

As Sylvia Hewlett writes in her  executive presence book, “Executive Presence: The Missing Link Between Merit and Succes”,

Executive presence is a “heady combination of confidence, poise, and authenticity that convinces the rest of us that we’re in the presence of someone who’s the real deal…that telegraphs that you are in charge or deserve to be…. [and] signals to others…that you’re star material.”

Let me repeat that – executive presence means that you signal to others that you are star material.

Executive Presence Tips – 4 Ways to Improve Your Leadership Presence

There is no quick way to improve your executive presence. It takes self-awareness, intention, and work to amp up your executive presence gravitas. The top articles, blog posts and videos about executive presence tips (like this one, this one, this one and this one) will tell you that the following characteristics or attributes will improve your leadership presence.

  1. Confidence & Body Language:

Do you have a strong belief in yourself, your abilities, your work, and your words? Confident men and women are seen as leaders and attract followers. While I work with people of all genders, I have an affinity for working with women because women’s careers (more so than men’s) often stagnate due to a lack of confidence. A quick, proven way to increase your confidence is to use your body to display it. When you change your posture to a power pose (shoulders back, hands on hips), studies show that you feel more powerful (your testosterone actually increases!) and people perceive you as more confident. This TED talk by Amy Cuddy will show you just what to do.

  1. Appearance:

If you want to be perceived of as a leader, you must look the part. If the leaders in your organization wear suits, then you should too. Yes, it’s superficial, but humans make quick judgments about each other based on appearance. Your grooming and clothing work together to convey competence and leadership– so maintain your haircut; and save those worn pants for the weekend.

  1. Composure:

Good leaders exhibit self-control when eyeballs are on them and the stakes are high. Sure, they express passion and emotion – many of the best leaders are said to have “big personalities–.” but they are still able to remain composed under pressure. One way to do that is to not get emotionally caught up in what other people may or may not be thinking about you. A good mantra to remember is “Their behavior, reaction, or expression is not about me.”

  1. Communication:

Communication encompasses your use of language, your tone, speed, and fluctuations of voice, as well as your non-verbal cues. What words do you use and how to do say them? Are you able to communicate your point clearly using the least number of words?  Have you noticed that good orators (like Presidents Obama or Reagan) don’t rush through their words? They make eye contact with audience members, pause, and emphasize certain words or phrases for effect.

Seeking executive presence training?

I train and coach people to command the room.

Let’s work together to boost your confidence and charisma as a leader.

You know you are star material.

I can help you shine.

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