12 Steps to Executive Presence by Andrew Bryant
Philip was furious, he had worked hard, stayed late, been loyal, exceeded his numbers, but missed out on the promotion he was expecting. When he asked his boss the reason, he was told that the other directors felt he lacked, ‘Executive Presence’.
Philip hadn’t realized that he was missing the ‘Secret Sauce’ to success in a modern organization, Executive Presence, and it cost him.
The good news is that ‘Executive Presence’ can be learned or developed. Don’t miss out like Philip, read and apply these 12-Steps in your career.
Executive Presence Definition
Executive Presence is the ability to project confidence and gravitas (substance) under pressure.
Executive Presence is about the right kind of ‘visibility’, whether the meeting is in person or on a global call.
1. Speak up
Silence may be ‘Golden’, but when it comes to establishing your value, you need to be a regular contributor to discussions. You don’t have to have all the answers, but by sharing your perspective, you can demonstrate that you are working to be part of the solution. If someone else makes a good point, verbally agree. If you disagree, avoid saying, “Yes but…” and instead say, “Yes and…” and then share your viewpoint or data.
2. Stand Still and Tall
Your body language, gestures and voice tone ‘frames’ your message. When you stand up straight and ‘own’ the space, you project confidence when you speak. People are more likely to listen to, and accept your message if it is delivered with confidence. You should try standing during voice calls, people can’t see you but they will ‘feel’ your confidence.
3. Share the ‘Why’
Why are you speaking about this topic? And why is it important to your audience? When you start your communication with a strong ‘Why’, you will immediately engage your listeners. If that ‘why’ is important to you, you will come across as passionate, if the ‘why’ is important to them, you will be inspiring.
4. Own it!
“If you’ve done it, it ain’t bragging”, Avoid discounting your accomplishments, take appropriate credit for your hard work and your results. You need to cultivate a brand – and that brand is of someone who is competent and gets things done.
5. Take a Position
Avoid ‘sitting on the fence’ and NEVER apologize for having a point of view. Be prepared to influence or be influenced with a persuasive argument. This demonstrates that you care about the best outcome, and are a driver, rather than a passenger in decision making.
6. Use Assertive Language
Avoid words and phrases like: “I’ll try”, “Maybe”, “It should be OK” or “IMHO”.
Instead use assertive language like, “I think”, “I believe”, and “We will make it happen”. It’s good to remember that, assertiveness, is not aggressiveness. Assertive is confidently stating your wants, beliefs, desires, in a way that actively encourages others to state their wants, beliefs and desires.
7. Apply Powerful Pauses
Give your words a moment to ‘sink in’ before you move on to the next idea. Take a breath after each paragraph, make eye contact, be comfortable with the silence, it positions you as thoughtful and measured.
8. Probe with Questions
Use questions to get as much information as possible to understand the issues and ensure you make good decisions. This avoids going off ‘half-cocked’ and shows that you are not superficial.
9. Get to the point
Once you have understood the issues, give your perspective as briefly as possible. Give just enough context but not too much, people want to know the bottom line as soon as possible. Become and expert at summarizing.
10. Bad News First
The evening news, on TV, does not start with a cute story about a baby animal being born at the Zoo, it starts with something shocking. Don’t wrap your messages in ‘cotton wool’, start your presentation with the bad news or possible threat; this will get everyone’s attention. Once you have everyone's attention you can deliver your solution or actions to take. You will be remembered as someone who ‘rescued’ the situation.
11. Delegate Responsibility
Don’ be too eager and offer to do everything; instead be a leader and invite others to step-up and take responsibility. You can then offer your support or mentoring to ensure the agreed actions are taken.
Being firm, doesn’t mean being rude. People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care, so show that you know how others feel and acknowledge their efforts. People will double their efforts if they feel appreciated.