Executive Presence is not a title that you give yourself, it is an honoury title bestowed upon you by colleagues, peers and constituents, because you have gained professional credibility and earned their respect.
Executive Presence is the ultimate level that a person achieves when their physical, mental and emotional state has matured to such a degree, that they inspire others to trust them in the role of leadership in companies, corporations and countries.
The concept of Executive Presence is not an exact science, it is an elusive term that has prompted many studies by reputable Universities around the world, to uncover its attributes and define its legitimacy.
Executive Presence is defined by a complex combination of internal and external attributes. To a large degree, presence is about the impressions we create and the perceptions others receive of us. However, as elusive as this concept is, the one thing we do know for sure about Executive Presence, is that it must come from a base of authenticity. Authenticity is the ability to be true to oneself and not present a façade. Humans have an innate ability to quickly determine authenticity and the lack of it can and will, diminish your credibility.
The internal attributes of presence refer to the social and emotional intelligence of an individual and their ability to connect and interact on all levels. Emotionally mature leaders have the ability to develop lasting relationships of trust that inspire others to grow and flourish under their command. Internal attributes also refer to the characteristics of an individual, such as confidence, charisma and humility. An essential ingredient of Executive Presence is a strong value system, as honesty, integrity; respect and compassion are the foundation on which relationships of trust are built.
The external attributes of Executive Presence refer to the professional appearance of the individual, as well poise, posture and body language. Although corporate dress code has changed dramatically over the last decade, there is still a stereotype perception of how one is expected to dress when in a position of power. Posture contributes largely to how one is perceived and recent studies show that individuals make a judgement about you within 100 milliseconds of meeting you, it is therefore imperative that one’s image is seriously considered when looking to develop higher levels of presence. Strong personal branding is just the starting point in developing Executive Presence, aspiring leaders need to move to the next level and position themselves as ‘Thought Leaders’ in their industry in order to make it to the top.
A leaders’ ability to communicate at all levels is a crucial quality that one must develop in order to gain high levels of credibility. Sadly, this is often one of the most underutilised tools in a leaders’ toolbox that they often neglect to develop. In today’s fast paced world of electronic communication, we often forget to stop and actively listen during conversations, because attention is continuously diverted by the multitude of media on our smartphones and electronic devices. Active listening is a powerful way to connect and build rapport with others and leaders would be well advised to consider whether they actually practice active listening or if they are pretending to be listening.
Excelling in the art of Public Speaking is the pinnacle of exuding high levels of Executive Presence, as this is the time one is judged the most. Many high level executives now work with a Public Speaking Coach to ensure that they make the most
of every speaking opportunity to develop credibility and raise their professional profile.
If one aspires to increasing their levels of Executive Presence, there are 6 essential elements that need to be focused on:-
Confidence Improve levels of self-perception – avoid arrogance
Connecting Focus on developing relationships of trust
Competence Shift from Competence to Business Intelligence
Credibility Evolve from Person Branding to Professional positioning
Communication Practice active listening and master the art of Public Speaking
Charisma Manage your mojo – permanently positive attitude, high energy & Gravitas