If you enter a room with 15 leaders one of them will stand out. She will have an air of confidence that people notice. Others will stop talking and listen to him. That person will have an overall decorum that exudes the message, “I belong here.”
Executive presence is a blending of mindset, competencies, and delivery that gives the overall impression that this person has dignity and can get the job done. Can executive presence be developed? Yes – if the person has a foundation of self-confidence and a willingness to build their self-awareness and self-regulation.
You don’t demonstrate an even temperament
Learn to manage emotions in the unpredictable moment by taking a deep breath and asking yourself, “What is going on with me?” Don’t be quick to give a biased opinion that may not be politically correct. If you feel threatened, don’t act out. Your insecurities show. Allow yourself the space to pause. The “pause” is a very useful tool that draws attention and gives you a moment to center yourself. When you speak, make it count.
You aren’t self-aware enough to accept yourself with all your limitations
Most conflict and bad behavior comes from a need to be right and is rooted in the fear of being judged. Give yourself a break. Become a third-party observer of your behavior, your body language, your emotions. What do others see when you lash out or withdraw? Many corporations profile for self-awareness. Practice noticing your actions and their effect on people. When you doubt yourself remember, “I may not be perfect but I’m still awesome at ______.”
You use uptalk
We’ve all heard it. You’re having a conversation with someone and you aren’t sure if the person is making a statement or asking a question. You either ‘had cereal for breakfast.’ or you ‘had cereal for breakfast?’ The other person doesn’t know the answer to which only you can be certain. Uptalk projects a lack of confidence. This is another reason to tape record yourself on the phone or to video your presentation. Listen for uptalk and eradicate it.
You don’t speak with certainty
Think of a national leader you admire. Watch a YouTube video of him or her giving a presentation. Make a list of the traits you admire – cadence, tone, pauses, sincerity. Then use your cell phone to record yourself having a telephone conversation at work. Video record yourself giving a presentation. Listen as if you were a prospective hiring manager. Would you hire yourself? Ask others for feedback. Allow yourself to be coached. Know how to stand your ground in a non-confrontational way. Know what you know. Know what you don’t know. And know there are countless things you don’t know you don’t know. So, ask for input from your team. “What have I missed?”
You aren’t known for getting it done
Perfectionism is the tripwire to failure. It moves you farther away from connecting with people and being effective. It can destroy your career. Don’t overwork that document or resume, thinking that one more go-around will make it better. Send it out. Don’t wait for the conditions to be perfect. That’s an excuse. Your reputation precedes you. How would you classify your leadership impact? Are you a change agent? Are you a turnaround specialist? Are you a gentle giant. A closer? A visionary? Make sure “Reliable” is among the characteristics that people use to describe you.
You don’t dress sharp
Different work cultures dictate different attire. Know your culture. Update your wardrobe. Clothing should be appropriate. It should be clean, pressed, well-coordinated, not overly accessorized and relatively new. It can be classic yet not old. One mistake I see is that as people advance in their career they still purchase their clothes at the same place they did when they earned less income. Dress the part. Don’t be labeled the “school marm,” the “player” or the “90s reject.”
You don’t develop good relationships throughout the organization and know how to engage key stakeholders first
Good leaders know they need to create alignment with people throughout the organization. Winning favor from key early adopters makes for better success when implementing change. Make a list of people others respect and go to. That’s who you start with. Understand what is important to them for collaboration.
You don’t command attention
Be deliberate. Watch Breakfast at Tiffany’s or The Wolf of Wall Street for examples of individuals who knew how to be notable. When you speak people should pay attention. Start with how you want to be remembered. Practice at a meeting and build to an audience. Know your one main message before you speak. Tell a story around that.
You don’t know when to enter a conversation to make your point
Eye contact and deep listening are precursors for impeccable timing. They require you to set your internal messaging aside and focus strictly on the individual. I call it being in the “other person zone.” You become curious to everything about them, listening and asking questions without voicing an opinion. You can’t learn from or support someone if you can’t be totally present for them. Generally, the last person in a group to speak has the most to say because they listened the most. When you aren’t posturing to make a point, you are able to weigh in from the 30,000-foot level and not position yourself from the 5-foot perspective.
You don’t anticipate challenges or opportunities and know how to redefine the platform to get what you want
You have to know how and when to adapt. Be flexible and resilient. Great leaders start formulating a plan for the next step before the existing one is complete. They don’t wait for a crisis. They anticipate it and plan accordingly. They foresee what is needed to sustain and continue success.
Mary Lee Gannon is an award-winning executive coach and 18-year corporate CEO who helps leaders have more effective careers, happier lives and better relationships because success is freedom, not more hours. Get her free Career and Life Planning Tool at www.MaryLeeGannon.com.
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