Do You Have an Executive Presence | Personal Branding

Forbes defines executive presence as:

The ability to project gravitas–confidence, poise under pressure and decisiveness—seems to be its core characteristic, according to more than two-thirds of the executives surveyed. Furthermore, communication—including speaking skills, assertiveness and the ability to read an audience or situation—and appearance contribute to a person’s perceived executive presence.

In this article by ForbesMuriel Maignan Wilkins, coauthor of Own the Room, breaks executive presence into three essential parts.

Assumptions – know yours! Assumptions that we hold dear can propel you to greatness or hold you back, but without being aware of these assumptions, you will never know how they are acting for you. These beliefs are important because they permeate every interaction. Therefore you have to condition these assumptions, keeping those that work, and discarding the negative ones that pull you down. Three critical assumptions that every leader should examine are:

– Confidence – what you bring to the table
– Perspective – what hat you wear
– Clarity – what your values are

If you can frame these assumptions in a positive and collaborative fashion, these assumptions can help enable your leadership presence.

Communication strategies– own your style. Communication is all about practice and precision. You must know what you want to convey and you must practice choosing the right strategy in order to properly convey that message. There are so many ways in which communication can break, and so many channels that can be used, therefore conditioning of this skill is crucial to success. Points to remember to achieve the best communication strategy:

– Frame the discussion
– Practice advocacy
– Connect and engage your audience

Energy – actions speak louder than words. Energy is all about conditioning your physicality to help strengthen the delivery of your message. This relates to managing how your body language and mood affect others. People can get all sorts of cues from your non-verbal behaviour and it is important for you to make sure that you are sending the right ones.

– Know your physical cues
– Set the tone for your organization with your energy
– Make your presence known – identify key members who need face time

By addressing basic assumptions, communication strategies and the energy with which you communicate, you are able to address the mental self, your skills, and your physical self. This provides an all-round strategy for concentrating one’s time and energy on specific elements of presence rather than floundering with vague statements. Su and Wilkins have also developed a diagnostic framework that enables you to diagnose your current level of presence and allow you do identify the areas in which you need to improve.

Another important factor in leadership presence is to make sure that your Body Language doesn’t undermine your message.  Gilda Bonanno explains how to make sure your body language matches the words you’re saying when you speak, present, or communicate.


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