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Who says you need “Executive Presence” anyway?

By May 24, 2023No Comments
“She just doesn’t have Executive Presence,” he moaned.

Listening to the senior executives complain about one of their EVPs, I took a deep breath before responding; it’s a phase I frequently hear when hired to work 1:1 with leaders to help advance their careers. And when I hear that, well, it frustrates and fascinates me.

It’s a common complaint among senior leaders at strategic meetings and succession planning conversations I am often part of. Still, these same executives often can’t actually explain to me what they mean by it.

The phrase ‘executive presence’ is often used but rarely defined.

Executive Presence is not something mysterious that people ‘lack’ – it’s a SKILL, NOT a secret.

Executive Presence is a skill that can be developed with the right strategies and coaching

Let’s stop using the word ‘executive’ and call it Presence.

So how do you have more Presence? Presence is all about demonstrating confidence—the ability to inspire confidence in others and yourself, and confidence from others, especially from leadership.

That’s it. Easy peasy.

You know when someone has it, and unfortunately, when they don’t. It’s easy to see and hard to name. So let’s fix that.

In our research with leaders in the Luxury Mindset research, we learned that luxury helps many leaders feel more confident. 60% of the leaders surveyed shared that confidence was the number one quality for presence.

Other qualities they listed included:

  • Forward-thinking
  • Ability to inspire others
  • Creative thinking
  • Experience
  • Ability to articulate a vision
  • Accountability
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Public speaking skills
  • Charisma
  • Assertiveness
  • Storytelling ability

As you can see, these qualities are related, and turning your attention to developing any of them can help increase your presence. And incorporating luxury into your life can most certainly impact all of these—I’ve even written down a few tips on how to use luxury to improve your confidence here.

Personality doesn’t dictate presence; confidence drives presence. 

I recently shared our Luxury Mindset Research as the keynote speaker at the Hotel Nikko in San Francisco (a great city, fabulous hotel) for the ALHI Executive Women in Leadership Program.  It was phenomenal—you can see my Instagram reel here.

When introduced to the vice president of the hotel, Anna Marie, I immediately thought, ‘Now this is a woman with presence’—she is confident, fun, assertive, and deeply respected in the industry.

As the host for this magnificent event, she provided an environment to allow her team to shine, connected us with leaders in the area, spoiled us with gifts to enhance our experience; and you knew she was the person in charge just by the way she entered a room—I love that. Each and every moment felt luxurious.

You don’t have to have a big personality, be the social butterfly, or have the biggest title in the room to have presence. Presence can be a quiet confidence and demonstrated by those that are knowledgable and the go-to person on the team.

As a leader, consider how you are creating an environment to allow others to grow, shine, and feel more confident. If you want to make your workplace feel more luxurious, you might enjoy reading one of our previous blogs with practical tips to appeal to all the senses; read more here.

You can enhance your presence using these strategies:

Strengthen Communication Skills – focus on digital and physical communications. Be conscious of your body language in person, on camera, and in your emails.

Be Over-Prepared – never attend a meeting without preparation—be the most prepared person in any situation; your efforts will never be wasted.

Develop Business Savvy – understand the political landscape of your organization and how to navigate it best.

Listen Intently – listen with your eyes. Listen to listen, don’t listen to respond. Avoid interrupting others, paraphrase when you can, be curious and ask questions, take notes as a sign of respect, and give others the gift of your undivided attention.

Know Your Worth  – there is no one in the company like you with your expertise, experience, insights, beautiful brain, and perspective. Spend time focusing on how to best communicate this in a way that adds value to the business, leadership, team, and clients you serve.

Be Well-Read – stay current and relevant, reading industry publications and non-fiction business books.

Develop Exceptional Presentation Skills – eliminate any nervous tension and nervous energy and focus on being a compelling master presenter.

Speak Assertively – eliminate filler words (so, um, ok), and speak clearly and confidently in meetings, presentations, and general conversations.

Articulate Contributions – learn how to talk about your expertise and contribution to elevate your personal brand. Speak up in meetings, and write notes about what you want to say before speaking aloud to improve your confidence.

Elevate Your Wardrobe – make sure work outfits make you feel confident and powerful, compliment the brand you are building within your organization, and eliminate distractions. You don’t need a lot of clothes, just your “A” outfits that allow you to feel your best self. When in doubt, err on the side of professional dress at work. It’s Ok to be the best-dressed person in the room.

Establish a Strong Network – focus on building relationships with a diverse group of people that you can help and learn from.

Conduct a self-audit – know your skills and accomplishments from your career and articulate it when required.

Stay Calm Under Pressure – be the duck (meaning you glide seamlessly across the pond, even if your little legs are going like crazy under the water), show everyone you can remain calm, and find a solution regardless of stressful situations.

Invest in a mentor or executive coach – someone who can help guide your career, have a confidential conversation with you, and hold you accountable for your goal achievement.

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