There are so many different definitions for executive presence and so many arguments for why leaders need more of it. From my perspective, none of that matters unless leaders understand what executive presence means to them and where their strengths and opportunities are in relationship to fostering it today! To start off this new year, take a moment to answer these questions:
- What behaviors might I observe in someone that I would describe as having executive presence?
- What do I see in myself that would fall under my description of executive presence?
- What would I like to spend time developing in my leadership this year as it relates to executive presence?
Reflect on your answers. Because of your reflection, Executive Presence is no longer a buzzword, but a real competency, rooted in personal meaning and supported by Emotional Intelligence that we can now fuel as the new year dawns!
After exploring how you define executive presence, the logical next step is to look at how others may perceive your leadership as it relates to this important area of growth.
The Center for Creative Leadership did a study on Executive presence.
They found that Leaders with Executive Presence will embody the following eight competencies. As you read these competencies score yourself from 1-5. ‘Five’ meaning you have a strong foundation demonstrating this competency and ‘one’ meaning it is an area of development for you:
- Relate well to people at every level and from all walks of life: approachable; work to put others at ease; sensitive and patient when it comes to the varying confidence levels of others.
- Use diplomacy and tact: quickly analyze the political climate and gently diffuse even the most tense situations.
- Take tough stands when necessary but remain authentic: persuasive and influential, even when supporting unpopular decisions; remain willing to listen to objections and alternatives.
- Manage emotional reactions: depersonalize criticism or attacks and remain composed under pressure; maintain a sense of humor and don’t take themselves too seriously.
- Face criticism with courage: internally secure, taking personal responsibility for decisions or errors, and moving on.
- Project self-assurance: not threatened by others (even those with strong personalities or opinions); know when to add levity to a situation and infuse humor as a way of connecting (aren’t afraid to poke fun at themselves); have enough confidence to seek out and recognize the contributions of others.
- Have superior presentation skills: know how to build strong business cases with stakeholder input; use concise and efficient communication while being prepared with more details as needed.
- Know how to “read” their audiences and adjust their communication styles accordingly: shift tone, pace, and even the message if they see that a more logical or emotional approach would increase their effectiveness.
Count your total (maximum score is 40): My Score _____________
- If you scored above 30, you have a solid foundation of executive presence.
- If you scored between 20-30, you have a foundation for which to continue to grow your executive presence.
- If you scored under 20, you have a strong desire and Self-Awareness for which to build a foundation for executive presence. Without Self-Awareness, executive presence is not possible so hats off to you!
*I designed this general self-assessment using CCL’s competencies to get you thinking about the complexities of Executive Presence. It is designed to provoke thought rather than be a prescription of what is to follow.
To take your assessment one step further, try asking someone you trust to rate you using the same scale and see what observations come from this exercise. Finally, compare your findings to your answer to #2 in the introduction of this blog. How accurate were you about your growth edges?
George MacDonald penned, “Few delights can equal the mere presence of one whom we trust utterly.” What if that one was you? Because inspiring confidence in others is at the heart of what it means to have executive presence, maybe the secret lies in utterly trusting ourselves first. Perhaps we had it all along and trusting what is on the inside is where greatness stirs. May this year bring you presence above all things!
To formalize this feedback by exploring what others’ perceptions are of your leadership in more depth, contact me to talk about Guiding Leaders and Teams 360 Executive Development Process.
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