08/04/2016 04:34 pm ET | Updated Aug 04, 2016
Dr. Patty Ann Tublin
Relationship “soft skills” & Communication expert
Have you ever wondered why some people’s careers soar and others flop? For many, the key to success for climbing the corporate ladder or growing their entrepreneurial business is the presence or absence of Executive Presence.
We all know executive presence when we see it.
The person who walks into the room and your head instantly turns as they silently command your immediate attention.
The person who possesses a magnetic presence that seems to naturally attract people to them.
The person who remains focused when stressed and calm under pressure.
The above characteristics are tantamount to executive presence. This is why it is often referred to as the “WOW” factor; their very presence “wows” you.
Before we go any further, let’s nail down exactly what executive presence is.
What is Executive Presence?
In her book: “Executive Presence: This Missing Link Between Merit and Success”, Sylvia Ann Hewlett states that the way you act, look and sound conveys executive presence. You exhibit confidence, competence, poise, effective communication skills and the ability to remain calm in the eye of the storm – all fundamental characteristics of executive presence.
In a nutshell, your presence exudes the qualities and characteristics of an executive and leader.
If you don’t look, act and sound like an executive or leader, it will be extremely difficult to become one.
The lack of executive presence will cripple – if not stall – your climb up the corporate ladder and stunt the growth of your business.
If you believe – or if you’ve been told you lack executive presence, don’t fret.
The good news is executive presence can be developed.
Following are the 3 key ingredients essential to executive presence & they can be learned!
1/Gravitas – how you act.
How you behave is perhaps the single most important component of Executive Presence. If you want to be an executive/leader, you must act like one.
Those with executive presence behave in a manner that conveys authenticity, competence, confidence, trustworthiness, poise and an ability to remain calm in the eye of the storm.
People with executive presence treat everyone with respect and dignity, regardless of their position within the company. Their behavior towards others displays a genuine interest in who they are as a person first – and what they do as a professional second.
You can increase your gravitas by developing self-awareness. Increased self-awareness will positively impact the way you behave and act towards others. The more you understand yourself, and what makes you tick, the more executive presence you will convey.
2/ Effective Communication Skills.
The ability to communicate effectively is an essential component of executive presence.
Exemplary verbal & non-verbal communication skills are consistently demonstrated along with the ability to actively listen to others.
Possessing effective communication skills equips one with the ability to hear what is not being said – and ascertain the question that is not being asked.
This is an invaluable skill for any leader.
Effective communication skills allow you to connect with others- with connection being the goal of all communication.
Communication skills can also be learned and improved upon with practice. Executive coaching, self-help books, attending workshops and seminars and asking for open honest feedback about your communication skills from colleagues and friends will all improve your ability to effectively communicate.
3/Award Winning Appearance – how you look.
Make no mistake about it, people make a snap judgment about who you are and what your level of competency is based upon your appearance. This includes the clothes you wear and how you wear them.
Harvard psychologist Amy Cuddy, in her best-selling book: “Presence” discusses that people size us up and make an initial impression about us within seconds of meeting us.
Therefore, it’s obvious that your appearance plays a huge role in how you are perceived.
Our appearance demonstrates executive presence when we dress appropriately, i.e., clothes not too loose or restrictive, good personal hygiene including healthy teeth, firm handshake, appropriate eye contact, positive body language and good posture.
These aspects of our appearance speak volumes about who we are and how we feel about ourselves – ultimately influencing the opinion(s) others form of us.
Executive presence is an important tool for your success.
You can readily increase your executive presence by putting the above 3 key components into action.