All leaders want to improve their executive presence skills…and that is what their companies want, too. From my experience, speaking almost daily to senior decision makers, I know that boosting your executive presence can completely overhaul your career…and open doors for you all the way to the top. Executive presence, when it is genuine, makes you a more effective and dynamic day-to-day leader. That strengthens your teams and ultimately empowers the pervasive strands of corporate DNA throughout your whole organization. But the key is authenticity…and a commitment to live with leadership presence 24/7…not just hoping to flip it on like a light switch when you think you need it.
I have been working in this executive presence development zone for more than 30 years, and here are four of the most important questions you need to be asking yourself– along with my answers and tips. Apply them and you can upgrade your leadership presence in ways that really add value and high-productivity DNA.
#1 What practical action can you take starting today, to become laser-focused as a leader?
ANSWER: Leaders often engage in communication without really being engaged. They are just going through the motions, without being fully present. But anyone who tries can immediately be a more active listener. Just concentrate and be 100% focused and aware. Why do you think that great leaders make you feel so special? The charisma you detect when you’re around them comes from an internal positive magnetism they project, by giving you their full attention. That kind of genuine presence resonates in that deep, authentic way that cannot be faked and is so rare and wonderful.
#2 How can you overcome fear and develop unwavering confidence when the pressure and spotlight is on you?
ANSWER: Author Joseph Campbell wrote “the cave you fear to enter holds the treasure that you seek.” To prepare for those scary, high-stakes situations, I want you to practice positive visualization. As you prepare yourself, picture a super-successful outcome. Embrace the emotions that you will feel when they love your ideas and give you fabulous feedback. When your mind digests this kind of visualization it seeps into the deep subconscious mind – to saturate your executive presence DNA and make you incredibly confident and cool-headed.
#3 Do you communicate in a strategic way that bolsters your signature leadership brand?
ANSWER: Language has such a profound impact. People perceive you as a leader based on your words and how you put them together. Learn to distill your points into succinctly powerful sound bites. Instead of filler words, reduce your message to the most potent DNA-level essence. That will give each sentence richness and valuable content. Do that and people will start to hang on your every word. Your leadership presence will soar.
#4 What opportunities can you take advantage of to practice your executive presence communication skills?
ANSWER: Make a list of venues and opportunities for you to continuously hone those all-important skills. Contact your boss to see if you can give a presentation to senior management or lead an upcoming leadership meeting. Speak at a professional or civic organization, or at an industry convention or company retreat. Put the word out and you’ll be surprised how many opportunities come your way. The more you stand up and give talks, the more those skills will become instinctual and natural for you.
#5 Who do you feel has great executive presence within your organization, and is a great example for you to observe?
ANSWER: Identify those role models, and study them and analyze them – the same way an actor might observe and listen to you if they were going to play you as a character in a movie. Pay attention to their posture, body language, and wardrobe. Watch to see what it is they do with their hands, or how they breathe and pace their delivery when speaking in difficult, high-pressure situations. Write down powerful words, phrases, or terminologies they weave into their communications – and then make them part of your own leadership presence vocabulary.
What do you gravitate toward in the presence of a great leader? Can you be specific – and can you incorporate whatever you notice into your own leadership personality and presentation? How are you going to practice this highly valuable skill? Can you start this month?