At the end of the year, I always encourage my clients to pause and reflect back on how the last 12 months went. What worked to strengthen your executive presence? What didn’t?
And most importantly: what do they wish to accomplish in the coming year? I’ll give you a hint: if you want 2017 to be more lucrative, more influential and more effective than 2016, Executive Presence must play a big role!
(Psst! Want to know my Top 5 Books for Crafting Executive Presence? They are available at the end of this post.)
As a powerful businessperson you have the ability to shape your career trajectory if only you’ll take some time to get clear on what you need and want. Just imagine for a moment what a profound difference it would make in your professional life if you were to position yourself well and set yourself up for success in the New Year.
Can you see it yet? Well – if you can’t, that’s okay. Here are five important aspects of Executive Presence to wrap your head around so you can create the career you’ve dreamed of.
The Visual Aspect of Executive Presence
Let’s cut right to the chase: do you look the part?
The visual aspect of Executive Presence is your image. How do you appear? Do you take care of your body by eating healthy and exercising so that your skin and hair shines? Do you dress for the position you wish to hold in the company? Meaning, does your clothing fit and flatter you? Do you pay attention to your grooming? Put more simply: do you show up looking like a professional who earns a large paycheck?
Many people don’t want to take an honest look at this aspect of their professional career, but the cold, hard truth is that what you look like matters. It’s an outward reflection of how you operate on the inside.
The Verbal Aspect of Commanding the Right Presence
This is your tone of voice, your speech pattern and your speaking and listening skills. Presentation skills are also part of this aspect.
Think of it this way: imagine someone stands up and gives a dry, monotone presentation. Maybe the information is actually pertinent and interesting, but since the “performance” is so poor, everyone is bored and it feels like the presentation just goes on forever. To truly embody Executive Presence and excel in the workforce, you must be aware of your verbal habits. Become dynamic. Listen well. Those are the habits of leaders.
The Kinesthetic Aspect of an Executive
Body language is extremely important to executives, especially in a professional setting. When you can accurately read someone else’s body language and moderate your own so that you’re communicating a consistent message, things will start to fall into place much more easily.
Non-verbal communication can seem tricky because it is often very subtle. If you cross your arms or legs, you’re sending a strong message of being closed-off or bored. Rolling your eyes and looking away sends a similarly strong message. The kinesthetic aspect of Executive Presence also encompasses personal space, your smell, the way you touch others (if at all) and your energy. All those things must be examined closely if you wish to rise in the ranks of your company.
The Sociability Aspect of an Executive Role
This aspect encompasses an awareness of behavior that is accepted or not; an understanding of what is considered offensive and what is considered polite. It’s essentially an understanding of manners and etiquette in the professional arena – which, by the way, includes how you behave when you’re alone in your own office!
Sometimes etiquette varies from company to company and industry to industry, but there are definitely general etiquette rules that apply in almost every situation in the Western World (now, if your company sends you overseas and you find yourself working in a completely different culture, you will definitely want to brush up on how they do business in that part of the world!).
The Presence Aspect of an Executive Job
I talk about this all the time when I coach clients – it’s the “it” factor, the “X” factor, the instant gravitas that someone with Executive Presence seems to magically exude. They shine. They “steal the show” when they walk into a room. You’ll have presence when you look the part, when you act the part, when you know how to make a fantastic first impression, when you have a heightened awareness of your body language and communication skills.
So, in 2017, where do you want to go? How do you want to be perceived? All five of these aspects of Executive Presence are equally important – you simply cannot master one of them and think you have it “down.”