Contributed by Patrick Reilly, Resources in Action
Speaker session: Executive Presence and Managing Up: Building Your Brand
At the higher level of organizations and especially with Boards, executive presence is an essential success factor. Several years ago, I kept hearing from clients, who would say things like, “He needs to show up better. She does not have enough executive presence.” When I would ask them what that looked like, I got a brief stare and then a “I don’t know, but I ‘ll know it when I see it!”
Business leaders need targets and goals to hit them.
Since most leaders are not able to define the issue of executive presence, I decided to research the question so I could build a model that leaders could follow and learn from. I wanted them to be aware of their executive presence strengths and challenges.
If you, as a leader, are required to have an executive presence, you need to know what that really means.
Executive presence is comprised of three core elements: how you act (gravitas), how you speak (communication) and how you look (appearance.) It can also be described as the skillful application of emotional intelligence and the effective presentation of your professional skills. Sylvia Ann Hewitt’s research suggests that 67% of executive presence is comprised of your gravitas, 28% depends on the quality of your communication and 5% on your appearance.
My model, with its core components, is comprised of:
- Confidence – Can I share my point of view well?
- Competence – Am I competent in my domain of technical expertise and able to communicate it effectively, especially to those who are not as expert in this area
- Courage – Do I have the courage to take a stand for the things I believe in? Take well informed risks and drive change?
- Calmness under Pressure – Can I project a sense of calm and poise regardless of the circumstances?
- Credibility (Balance) – Do I have a balanced approach that includes being both assertive and results oriented while being compassionate and having empathy for others?
- Reliably deliver results – Do I provide quality results in a timely fashion?
- Clarity and Crispness – Is my communication in speaking and writing clear, crisp and succinct? Do I have the tone and timbre in my voice that makes others want to listen?
- Connection – Do I have strong relationships with people at all levels of the Organization? Do others see me as an effective listener, authentic, and approachable?
- Do I fit in with my peers and those who are one level up?
- Do I dress professionally for my company and in line with today’s standards?
- Do I exhibit good manners, use appropriate language and employ good grammar? Why is this section in italics? I guess it is to make it parallel with the first two. Is that right?
Once you have attained clarity about your strengths and challenges you need to learn how to put your ideas into action.
To be a credible leader you must have followers (Kouzes and Posner), but how do you demonstrate those qualities convincingly so that they become more compelling over time? Some question if these skills are trainable and learnable, but one must also begin to learn some non-traditional business skills to become a leader. These skills require you to access the energy in your body and to learn to convey your passion to others with fire (in a way that works for you and is in concert with your true self). Actors are trained this way. They learn how to step into a role and convey to others what might be possible, while also communicating about how we might achieve an end-result or final goal.
Your leadership presence becomes more visible when you can convey a set of messages (about your organization) that:
- Will get the attention of your people,
- Support them to listen more carefully, and
- Ignite their drive to support you to reach the goals of the company as well as the future you have described and set forth.
If you need guidance around finding or creating a stronger executive presence, please visit my website, http://www.resourcesinaction.com/. You can also contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or 510-524-4934.
Are you going to HR West next week? My session, Executive Presence and Managing Up: Building Your Brand, will cover more about how to cultivate a new or better executive presence.
About Patrick Reilly
President of Resources in Action, Reilly’s coaching career (25 years) began when a client asked him if he would provide some leadership coaching. He soon realized that he was adept and well suited to help leaders leverage their strengths to become more powerful. His business background in operations, technology and R&D informs his work as an executive coach. Reilly’s work focuses on supporting leaders in developing their executive presence and managing up. Clients describe him as approachable and compassionate while being focused, organized and results driven. He has two grown children who, he says, “trained him to work well with others.”