What Does My Boss Mean by, “Work on Your Executive Presence?”

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As part of an organization that is called upon for coaching services, we often hear managers say, “He needs to improve his executive presence” or “She has high potential and is a good performer, but her presence could slow down her progression in the company.”

task-listCountless articles are published on executive presence, but it still remains a fuzzy, elusive concept. We can recognize it, especially when it is lacking, but find it difficult to articulate. So, what do bosses mean when they say, “You need to work on your presence”? Focus on these four areas to enhance your executive presence.

1. Presentation Skills

Public speaking is often quoted as one of the most common fears … feared more than death. The word “presentation” does not only refer to speaking while standing in front of an audience, but can also refer to interacting with groups and teams. A leader with executive presence will have the ability to prepare thoughtful communications to influence, motivate and engage others. The power of a presentation can make the difference between success and failure. The good news is: everyone can learn the skills and techniques to increase confidence and to connect with the audience.

2. Conflict and Focus

An individual who flies off the handle when a situation goes awry, berates employees in public, or avoids conflict at all costs doesn’t demand respect and lacks presence. What you say and how you say it communicates everything people need to know about you. Learn to communicate in a clear and concise manner and control your emotions. Work to be someone who is approachable and addresses conflict in a healthy manner while maintaining accountability.

3. Dress the Part

Whether you like it or not, first impressions matter. People will likely judge you (and your company) by how you look. This includes your clothing, hair, make-up, etc. Your personal style conveys a message – which may not be positive. What is your style saying about you? This does not mean that you need to be a clone and give up all your personal creative styling, but be intentional about the impression that you make and be consistent in that impression. In addition to style, be aware of the message that your body language sends. Walk upright with good posture and stay mindful and present in the moment. This will increase your presence.

4. Genuine Expressions

People, employees, and direct reports will see right through you if you are superficial with your expressions. Faking it to win hearts and minds won’t fly. You have to demonstrate consistent thoughts and attitude that build trust, credibility and competence. Nothing replaces character, integrity and authenticity. Get clear on who you are and what you stand for.
Practice these four skills and after time, you will begin to hear people describe you as “commanding a room,” “inspiring,” “confident,” or in other words, having executive presence.

What would you add to this list to enhance your executive presence?

Shawna Simcik, M.S., CMP, Managing Partner, OI Global Partners Denver

Working in partnership with clients, Shawna designs custom career transition and leadership development for individuals, teams and corporations to address and attain sustainable, business results. Shawna is the Board President for the Mile High Society for Human Resource Management in Denver and a three time “40 Under 40” Nominee. Shawna holds a BA in psychology from the University of Colorado at Denver and a Master’s degree in Industrial-Organizational Psychology from the University of Nebraska at Omaha. She is certified as a Career Management Practitioner through the Institute of Career Certification International. She can be contacted at ssimcik@oiglobalpartners.com.

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