Executive Presence refers to a set of criteria which amount to nuanced leadership. Your stakeholders judge you on your character and the overall quality of your results. In this context effectiveness equates to your ability to communicate your sense of purpose and authentically connect with others on both a day to day basis and in specific challenging situations. Every interaction is an opportunity to influence people’s attitudes, behaviour and/or actions and to enhance your reputation.
Whilst Leadership Presence comes in different shapes and sizes this short article gives a few universal principles on how to add value to business.
1. Honesty and openness – Your reputation is based on your stance on big issues and how you do business. Your stakeholders expect you to behave in an ethical manner and to keep your word. Whilst nobody expects you to be perfect, everyone expects you to take responsibility for mistakes. Blaming others erodes your positive influence and creates a dangerous environment where there is no trust. When you take ownership of mistakes you set an example and earn respect.
2. Accessibility – This does not mean you are open for business 24/7. You need time to yourself to think, recharge and gain perspective. Your stakeholders need to know when and how to reach you. Knowing that and respecting your wishes in return they expect you to be approachable, to listen, to take them seriously and understand their concerns. In order to do that you need to prioritise your work according to its value to the business. Organise your working day by matching the complexity of the task to your energy level. Prepare for meetings and be willing to accept offers of help. A crisis will inevitably happen at some point but if you have the head space and the energy to deal with it you and your team will find it less stressful.
3. Positive thinking – This does not mean keeping your head in the sand and ignoring life’s less pleasant situations. Positive thinking just means that you approach unpleasantness in a more positive and productive way. The irrepressible optimism of Paddington Bear, Pollyanna and Mary Poppins is often dismissed as charming but unrealistic. We overlook optimism as a motivational tool which can alter the outlook on a particular situation and forget negativity and demotivation can be contagious and debilitating. Positive thinking starts with self-talk. Some self-talk comes from logic and reason whereas other self-talk arises from misconceptions that are created from of lack of information. Regardless of the subject, become informed and include others in your thinking and decision making. Process and reframe negative events and encourage the ideas and contributions from others. Positive thinking is more than a state of mind it is a skill that becomes stronger with practice.
In conclusion,there is no ‘secret sauce’ to Executive Presence. Honesty, accessibility, and positive thinking all three valued attributes that you can bring to the leadership table. Your Executive Presence is enhanced through earning the respect and trust of others.