Executive presence is the hallmark of successful leaders who assert influence, drive change, and inspire organizational excellence. Their insight, judgment, and decision making are constantly being evaluated by stakeholders who look for integrity and wisdom in all their leaders say and do. Executive presence is the “x-factor” that defines how outstanding leaders think, act, and behave.
Executive presence becomes increasingly important as leaders assume more visible positions and broader roles. Often, the qualities that led to promotion, like technical expertise and hard work, are not enough to inspire and influence others to achieve business goals. When there is a discrepancy between the leader’s intentions and their stakeholders’ perceptions, problems arise, morale suffers, and productivity drops. This is why great employees often fail as leaders.
How can you increase your own executive presence? Begin by clearly evaluating your strengths and the areas in which you may need more work. Various studies on executive presence indicate the following factors as being among the most important:
- Character ”“ such as your integrity and authenticity
- Substance ”“ including your perceived intelligence and wisdom
- Style ”“ not just your dress, but your body language and the energy and passion you convey
It’s always difficult to assess ourselves, so you’ll want to get feedback from thoughtfully selected family, friends, co-workers, or, better yet, a certified coach. Once you’ve gotten some feedback, you’ll want to identify and prioritize your development themes and action steps.
This process requires considerable self-awareness, reflection, and lots of practice, particularly in communication skills. It also requires your attention and focus on other people ”“their perceptions of you and reactions to your behaviors.
If you feel it is important to step up your game and develop your wow factor, then you may want to schedule one of the workshops we offer for your leadership team, or get some private coaching. You’ll learn how to assess and prioritize what you need to change, how to improve your communication and relationship skills, and how to inspire and improve morale and performance.