Years ago, I had the opportunity to listen to the hall of fame basketball Coach Pat Summitt speak at an HR leadership conference in Tennessee. When she walked on stage, her energy filled the room. The crowd was on the edge of their seats, fully engaged, and walked away with a sense of newfound purpose. I can only imagine the passion and energy she passed on to her players on the court.
We all know someone like this. They walk into a room, command attention and inspire us. Some people are just born with this ability; others have to nurture it. I’m talking about presence – our unique blend of personal and interpersonal skills and behaviors that influence others. As an executive, the presence you project can make or break your ability to inspire your organization and garner respect from fellow leaders. According to a survey in Forbes, having a strong executive presence accounted for 26% of the reason why someone is chosen for a promotion over their peers. In short, executive presence is a powerful thing.
Now that you’ve earned a seat at the leadership table, how would rate your executive presence? What makes your presence impactful? Inspirational? Where do you need to improve? Just like learning the alphabet in grade school was fundamental to your education, honing in on the foundations of executive presence is a combination of another type of A-B-C’s:
- Appearance. You’re a leader…dress like a one. But what does that really mean? We often get the vision of a person is a stiff, formal black suit behind a desk. That may not fit your culture and could backfire on how approachable your image appears. Take it from Mark Zuckerberg or Sheldon Yellen – your appearance should match the culture you want to create. What do you want your outward image to say about you? The way we dress makes a first impression, often before we even open our mouths.
- Behavior. All great leaders know you must exude confidence (not to be confused with arrogance). But there is a balance. Learning to own the room without steamrolling others is a critical element to a having a successful executive presence.
- Communication. Great leaders are great communicators. This applies to in-person, phone, email, online – anywhere you are communicating with others. Communicate like a leader and people will follow you.
Keep in mind – maintaining your executive presence online is equally important in today’s transparent, oversharing social media world. A survey in Entrepreneur reported that 64% of employers have made employment decisions based on reviewing a person’s social media accounts. Fine-tuning your executive presence will help you lead like the leader you are destined to be.
The executive presence projected from your top leaders can reinforce or hurt your organization’s culture. Reach out to us at https://www.successfulculture.com/contact/. We love helping our clients build successful organizations – full of leaders ready to take on the challenges of tomorrow and inspire everyone along the way.