What does executive presence mean to you, and why do you want to embody it? Maybe you secretly dream of walking into a room and just owning it to the point that your very presence will capture positive attention and captivate the audience. Maybe you hope to develop an ability to charm others so you can compete for a promotion or gain the advantage in a negotiation or debate. Maybe you desire to wow people and get them to like or favor you more because you display a distinctive level of gravitas or expertise. And maybe you just wish you could gain more respect and have your voice, recommendations or ideas heard and taken more seriously.
Even a term as ubiquitous as executive presence can be, and often is, misunderstood.
When I discussed this topic with executives and managers, those were just some of the examples they recently shared with me for what executive presence looks like and why they want themselves and their employees to embody it. The problem is that the above examples (or reasons) show that most people think executive presence is about them and how they come off or present themselves to others. This is a common misunderstanding of the concept. Executive presence is not about you. Instead, it is about how those you are presenting before or working with experience you.
With so many people striving to embody it, it’s amazing the level of ambiguity you’ll find when you ask people to actually define it. The exercise becomes even more daunting when you ask recruiters, executives and managers to precisely define executive presence (a soft skillset) as a behavior or competency that employees can indeed develop. I’ve asked some and many couldn’t. If you don’t define executive presence, your employees and executives aren’t likely to develop it either. I have defined executive presence below, but first I will focus on what it looks like when a person clearly doesn’t have it.
8 warning signs that you don’t have executive presence.
1. You rarely speak up, or you tend to shy away from asking questions.
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Executive presence requires assertiveness—even boldness—at times and in a respectful and authoritative manner. In order to put forward an executive presence, you first have to be intentionally present and courageous enough to take up your space in the world. You have to believe you belong in the room, know your own value and appreciate that you can—and should—have an impact.
If you don’t speak up, you risk being perceived as inferior. You are also diminishing your executive presence because you aren’t giving others an opportunity to assess your willingness to fight for their needs or for anything else for that matter. You aren’t giving people a chance to observe your passions, your interests or your engagement, and this makes it difficult to develop trust and instill confidence about your abilities from others. And if you don’t ask questions even when you should for clarity or to have a point reiterated, you aren’t giving others an opportunity to help you, and you risk coming off as completely disengaged or a know-it-all.
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2. You speak up too much and end up dominating the conversation.
Yes, executive presence is about being confident enough to take up your space in the world, but it is not about undervaluing the value, input, recommendations and ideas of others. When you are dominating the conversation, you aren’t listening effectively, and this diminishes executive presence. Those with executive presence appreciate the value of strategic silence in order to achieve a goal, advance the conversation, navigate politics or develop relationships.
3. You struggle to moderate your emotions or struggle to adjust to others’ emotions.
Executive presence requires highly developed emotional intelligence. If you can’t or won’t effectively manage your own emotions, you won’t be able to effectively persuade others, establish credibility or earn respect. And, if you lack the willingness or ability to adjust your plans or the conversation after reading contrary emotions in others, you risk losing their attention.
Executive presence requires more than great speaking skills. It also requires the ability to adjust accordingly in response to the needs of your listeners or audience. Otherwise, they may perceive that you aren’t able to address or prioritize their concerns. As a result, they may disengage, and you won’t gain their trust.
4. You are prone to outbursts or tolerate workplace bullying.
Executive presence requires highly developed conflict resolution and conflict management skills. Others will observe how you respond to challenges, difficult people and stressful situations, and they will notice if you use—or tolerate—bullying, abusive language, yelling or unnecessary force to demean, humiliate or otherwise diminish another person in order to lift yourself or someone else up or to save face. As an effective leader with executive presence, you need to set the example, and it needs to be a good one.
5. You show up late, or you don’t take time to interact with and engage your audience.
A large part of executive presence is making others feel important and valued. Executive presence is about helping others get more comfortable with you. It is about helping others believe they matter. If you show up to events or meetings late or don’t make it your business to prioritize their interests, you will not connect with the audience in the best way.
Take the extra time to network and mingle with people. Shake hands; engage with interest and eye contact. Make your audience believe that you sincerely care about what they care about and what they are focused on. Show them that your attention is far more focused on them than it is on yourself.
6. You fidget, ramble or display a disconnect between your verbal and non-verbal messages.
Executive presence requires effective and consistent communication and messaging. Anything that diminishes credibility or confidence with your message diminishes your executive presence. When you fidget, ramble or cause a disconnect between your spoken words and your body language, you are diminishing your credibility. Even more, those you are speaking with come to view you as lacking—lacking in confidence, lacking in self-esteem or lacking in expertise. Surely, none of this supports your desired outcome.
7. You behave unprofessionally, look unkempt or smell bad.
Executive presence requires professional behavior, a well-styled and maintained business wardrobe and top-notch hygiene. If you allow your behavior, attire or hygiene to become a distraction, you won’t be viewed as someone with an executive presence. Even worse, people you are trying to influence or persuade might just end up pitying you. And not only won’t they ever view you as a power player or executive, they won’t even view you as an equal.
8. You fail to set standards for integrity, ethics and boundaries.
You won’t be viewed as someone who displays an executive presence if you don’t set standards and hold yourself and others accountable for professional standards and for upholding integrity and ethics. If you create ethical dilemmas for the organization or your team, you will diminish your executive presence. Also, if you fail to create boundaries so as to eliminate or reduce inappropriate workplace jokes and behaviors with clear lines between personal and professional acceptable conduct, you will diminish your executive presence.
What executive presence is really about.
When it comes to executive presence, the expectation seems to be that people will just magically show up with “it” – some kind of vague or mystical wow factor that will help them stand out from the rest and elevate themselves, their colleagues, their teams and everyone else along the way. This won’t happen. Executive presence needs to be clearly – and unambiguously – defined and then developed in employees and executives so they can achieve greater levels of success.
Here’s the deal. It’s not really about you. Executive presence is more about how other people experience you. It is also about confidence, but executive presence is less about how confident you are in your own abilities than it is in how confident others are in your abilities. Executive presence is a reflection of how willing others are to engage with and do business with you. It reflects the level of credibility others subscribe to you.
To the extent that executive presence is about you, it is about your ability to inspire confidence in others to trust you; it is about your ability to inspire others to listen to you; it is about your ability to make others comfortable approaching you. And it is about your ability to elicit the trust necessary for others to seek you out for advice.
So the next time you want to proclaim executive presence on yourself or someone else who simply dresses the part, talks the talk and shows up with a boat load of charisma, stop and pause. How people dress and talk indeed factors into it, but executive presence is about so much more. Now, you hopefully have a better take on the many other factors that really comprise this broad term.
Source : https://www.forbes.com/sites/terinaallen/2020/12/29/executive-presence-8-warning-signs-that-you-dont-have-it/?ss=leadership-strategy#a91ba63a4984