As coaches, we receive this request frequently. And most often, when we ask our clients to describe what they mean, it’s clear that executive presence is one of the least defined leadership qualities. We know what it looks like in action, but it can be hard to describe and the definition of executive presence can shift a bit from company to company, depending on the culture. Yet, executive presence is a critical quality for successful leadership in any company.
In a previous post, we mentioned the importance of observing other leaders who are advancing and attempting to define what sets them apart from their accomplishments. As a place to start, this helps put your company’s leader profile into focus, and from there you can begin to deduce the intangible leadership traits and behaviors that will make you more effective and fast track your success. Likely, your observations will fall into one of these categories:
- Confidence: Confidence can be communicated via body language or the way you talk. But it’s also about sharing your point of view, regardless of the audience.
- Courage: Leaders who have courage stand up for what they believe in, and take a well-measured risk to initiate and drive change.
- Credibility: Credibility is living up to commitments and walking the talk. It’s also about appearance and “looking the part.” (see leader profile comment above).
- Connection: Effective leaders achieve results through the strength of their relationships up, down and across the organization. By actively listening to their colleagues, they let them know they care and are supportive of their peers and direct reports. Emotional intelligence plays a role in establishing connection with others, as does empathy.
- Clarity/Crispness: The ability to communicate complex information so it is easily understood by others is an important leadership quality. Crispness is also about getting to the point quickly and avoiding unnecessary details unless asked.
- Calmness: During a crisis, who would you likely follow: an even-keeled leader or one who emits panic and stress? Calmness when in the midst of a storm communicates trust.
Try defining your company’s leader profile and then on a scale of 1 (low competence) – 7 (high competence) assess yourself in each category. Then, create a plan.
What actions do you need to take to increase your Executive Presence?