How to Cultivate Executive Presence

Part 5 of 5

6 Steps for Building Executive Presence

Management consultant Karl Albrecht encourages readers to work on the following dimensions of executive presence in Social Intelligence: The New Science of Success (Pfeiffer, 2009).

  • Don’t mimic a CEO you’ve read about, admired or conceptualized in your mind. Personal authenticity is critical, so find your most natural way of walking, talking, dressing and interacting with others. Find and express your own voice. If you try to act important, you will come across as arrogant. Think about how you want to be perceived, and aim for these qualities in everything you do.
  • Identify your core strengths and values. Write a brief description of yourself from the perspective of someone who has just met you. What would you like people to say about you? Start working on specific aspects of this ideal description to ensure they’re real. If you’re not expressing your values in the things you say, then maybe you’re fooling yourself about them.
  • Leave a long message on your voice-mail, and play it back in a few days to get an idea of how you sound to a stranger. Note any aspects of your speech that you would like to change. You may not be aware of your vocal intonations and tics, which can add to or detract from how others perceive you.
  • Record a conversation with a friend on audio or video. Make sure it’s long enough so that you and your pal forget you’re being recorded. Study yourself and your friend’s reactions to jot down any habits or behaviors that contribute to or inhibit empathy, clarity and/or authenticity.
  • Ask one or more close friends to share their impressions about meeting you for the first time. Remind them to be brutally honest, and encourage them to offer insights into other aspects of your interactions – especially the areas that could be improved.
  • Review your discoveries with your coach or mentor. Ask for help. Practice. Change will take time, as personal habits in interacting with others are ingrained. After a while, however, you and your inner circle should begin to notice improvements. Never forget that polishing your interpersonal skills and executive presence is a lifelong journey.
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