In the world of leadership, there comes a point in one's career when the term "executive presence" enters the conversation. It's that juncture when you find yourself with increased visibility in your organization, and suddenly, how people, including senior levels, perceive you becomes crucial. You receive feedback along the lines of, "You need to work on your executive presence," but what exactly does that mean? To complicate matters, there are numerous misconceptions surrounding this elusive quality.
During my time in the corporate world, I, too, grappled with the notion of executive presence. I believed that to exude executive presence, I needed to “act more like a man.” Over the years, I've coached male leaders who believed it meant impeccable grooming or dressing to impress. It's not uncommon for leaders to have these misconceptions, and often, the process of demystifying executive presence begins with understanding what it is not.
It's often easier for organizations to pinpoint when someone lacks executive presence—when an individual is overly reticent or excessively talkative, when emotions become a stumbling block, when punctuality or professionalism falters, or when nervous fidgeting or rambling takes over. These outward signs of unprofessional behavior, whether in appearance, language, or demeanor, are easier to identify. However, explaining what executive presence is can be a more nuanced challenge.
Identifying executive presence is a personalized journey unique to each leader receiving feedback. One helpful approach is to consider three fundamental questions regarding how people perceive you:
These questions prompt leaders to reflect on the alignment between their words and actions, a central aspect of authenticity. After all, authenticity is about being genuine and consistent in presenting yourself. It's not a facade or an attempt to mimic someone else's style; instead, it's about being true to your values, strengths, and personality.
Authenticity plays a pivotal role in boosting credibility and fostering genuine connections, which, in turn, supports your executive presence. Here's how:
Remember that authenticity is not a one-size-fits-all concept in your journey to enhance your executive presence. It's about embracing who you are, understanding your unique strengths and values, and confidently bringing your true self to your role as a leader.
Here are some actionable steps to incorporate authenticity into your executive presence:
Executive presence is a dynamic quality that evolves with personal growth and self-awareness. By prioritizing authenticity in how you show up consistently and working on being more authentic, you'll not only elevate your executive presence but also leave a lasting, positive impact as a leader.
Ready to elevate your executive presence? Take the next step and work with me to enhance your authenticity and elevate your executive presence—and, in turn, your career. Together, we'll unlock your full leadership potential and help you leave a lasting, positive impact on your organization.
The United States is in a state of emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic. If your organization wasn’t already crisis planning, they certainly are now.
For the past year, I have been watching the “message from our CEO” emails, the social posts, the news (now that is enough to scare anyone!) and can’t stop thinking about how much we learn about people during times like this…how much we learn about our leaders.
There is no doubt that the impacts of this situation are far-reaching as organizations pull back spending, freeze travel, update work-from-home policies and look to protect the health and safety of their employees and customers.
It is the right thing to do. Some leaders have managed their organizations through crisis before and for others, they lack the experience.
I have experienced it before, and I am seeing it with my clients now. It is times like this when intentional leadership is needed most.
Show up with a sense of responsibility and commitment to your organization and role model the behavior you want people to follow.
Engage personally with people, listen to their fears, and communicate openly and transparently. Acknowledge the challenge and help people know that you have their best interest at heart.
Most crises come on quickly and it is critical to jump into planning, make swift decisions, move people to action, address the external constituents.
But it is also critical to take a breath and think through the plan to lead your people through the situation.
Here are four things you can do as an Intentional Leader. Show up as your best self and as the leader your employees need you to be:
The worst thing you can do is overreact which brings fear, panic, and self-interest into the picture. All eyes are on you so maintain self-control by projecting a sense of calm.
Don’t minimize the situation as you can come off as inauthentic but use facts (not fear) to balance the reality of the situation with the emotions of the people.
In absence of information, people fill in the blanks. Be visible and explain the steps being taken. Be transparent, clear, and timely in sharing information.
Recognize the fluidity of the circumstances and commit to regular updates that keep everyone focused forward together.
Help your people see the bigger picture…the world on the other side of the crisis. Remain positive and encouraging as your organization pushes through the discomfort and uncertainty.
When necessary, stand back from the action and reassess. Solicit input within the organization but pull in outside advice when necessary.
Don’t waste the crisis! When the challenge is finally over, it is important to de-escalate and restore operations but that doesn’t always mean “business as usual”. Ask for feedback, capture lessons learned, and identify long last improvements that can be made.
Most importantly, explicitly thank and recognize people for what they achieved. Acknowledge the disruption and express gratitude for their continued support, focus, and commitment during a difficult time.
As painful as it is, a time like this is an opportunity to practice the type of leadership that is needed. To effectively and successfully lead through the most difficult and uncertain situations.
– inspirational, connected, present, mindful –
Embrace the challenge, be intentional in your how, and new ways of thinking will arise. You will get past it with an understanding that you can face a crisis, like COVID-19, head-on, and be a better leader for your organization in the long run.
Tricia is a global business leader, author, and certified executive coach. Her unique corporate background gives her a clear understanding of the personal and professional challenges that senior business leaders face today.
She brings real-life expertise around talent, culture, and leadership to every coaching engagement and is committed to helping individuals, teams, and organizations accelerate performance.
Tricia believes this can be done with authenticity and by staying true to personal values, beliefs, and leadership styles.