By Michael Mink
Nearly 90% of senior leaders said in a recent survey the way executives comport themselves helps them get ahead. But how do you build powerful executive presence?
“Executive presence is critical for career success,” says Harrison Monarth, an executive coach and author of “Executive Presence: The Art of Commanding Respect Like a CEO.” “It is also the foundation for effective leadership, as executive presence is about having influence and impact.”
Stop struggling to project your best. A number of techniques will amp up the image you transmit in meetings and while speaking with others.
You don’t broadcast confidence without believing in what you’re doing. Courage is the ability to stand up for one’s beliefs, values, and principles in spite of perceived external pressures, Monarth says.
“A courageous leader is one who challenges the status quo and ensures that values are maintained,” he added. This means holding others accountable. And it also means speaking the truth to those in power.
Confidence is just bravado if you’re not competent, Monarth says. Leaders who lack skill quickly lose respect and credibility no matter how they hold themselves. So how do you build skill? The core elements of competence include intellectual contributions, demonstrated expertise, delivering results and decisiveness, Monarth says.
We’re in an era where getting overwhelmed and inundated by input and data is easier than ever, says Rick Snyder, author of “Decisive Intuition.”
The key is using the data to make big, informed strides. Timidity and taking safe small steps doesn’t build executive presence, says Snyder, founder and CEO of Invisible Edge, a firm that coaches executives on decision making.
You’ll build executive presence if you “cut through the noise and take bold action,” he said. “We need to be equal parts receptive and decisive in finding the best route forward.”
Being deliberate and taking your time may seem counterproductive to meeting deadlines and staying ahead of competition, Snyder says.
But Snyder adds when you slow down your thoughts and filter out distractions, “you literally pick up on new information inside of and around you. Your subconscious mind has time to process and connect the dots from the day. New and meaningful insights await you when you allow time to catch up with yourself.”
Snyder says Steve Jobs walked barefoot around the Apple campus in order to “slow down and allow new innovative solutions to come into his awareness.”
Navy SEALS practice “box breathing” to increase calmness, focus, and presence. Snyder says this involves counting to four on the inhale and exhale. “Slowing down your breath intentionally will allow you to get more present.”
Invest In Relationships
Presence is a function of your relationships. To build the way you’re perceived, understand who the influencers are in an organization. Get their support either directly or indirectly, Monarth said. Forge alliances and generate buy-in and support from stakeholders across the organization, he adds.
Your inner critic is the #1 saboteur of your business success, Snyder says. It’s the familiar voice that “is filled with doubts, judgment, and comparing yourself to others.”
Separate the voice of your critic from the voice of your intuition, he adds. How?
Your critic’s voice often comes with “lots of narrative and drama of why you should or shouldn’t do something, along with old messaging from the past,” Snyder said.
Contrast that to the voice of your intuition, which is “typically clear, light, and non-dramatic,” he said. “It’s very basic in that something either feels off or right on the money, yet it takes time to develop this knowing.”
Develop Self Awareness
Your outward appearance, personal expression and ability to connect with people determines how others judge your ability to get things done, Monarth said.
Personal branding isn’t about the clothes you wear. It’s about projecting confidence and showing poise in pressure situations.
“The ability to manage these impressions will ultimately differentiate those deemed to have executive presence vs. those who fall short,” he said.
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