Speaking about executive presence as how one looks, acts and how others perceive you is only scratching the surface, to have true impact you must look within. Otherwise, you are creating a superficial window dressing, which others can see right through and will not build trust.
Authentic leadership requires more than a display of the trappings of power. You must cultivate a grounded magnetism that builds trust and inspires people to work toward common goals—it is a part of the art of leadership that can be learned, improved and integrated into who you are.
Your ongoing choices and actions (or lack thereof) have a significant impact on how others experience your presence. Improvement requires you to shift your heart and mindset, develop new behaviors and release your comfort zone of safe, ineffective habits.
On this journey, it’s often helpful to partner with an experienced professional coach who can provide feedback on how you’re perceived. My clients say that coaching is worth the investment of time, energy and finances, as you’ll ultimately become a more effective leader.
The Inside Job
Presence begins within. Your mindset creates the platform from which you speak, act and express emotions with authenticity and confidence. Effective leaders must genuinely be confident, energetic, empathic, inspirational, credible and authentic.
This requires taking a deep look at yourself to identify your core values, to know your strengths and your purpose. Begin by paying attention to how you “show up” and go about your day.
How do you:
Connect with people?
Express your feelings?
Every move you make on the corporate stage merges to form your leadership impact.
As Kristi Hedges writes in The Power of Presence:
“Executive presence begins in your head. It resides in how you think about yourself, your abilities, your environment, and your potential.”
Identifying your core values and knowing your strengths and purpose is the foundation of the executive coaching work we do together. Your core values, strengths and purpose create and drive the foundation for your executive presence. Then, we move to examining intentions aligning your thought patterns, habits, assumptions and actions.
To develop presence, Ask yourself:
- What core values, strengths and guiding purposes give my life meaning and purpose (for me, for the company)?
- Who do I intend to be (as an individual, as a member of the company)?
- How do I intend to contribute?
- What will I do now? What will I do next?
I find that leaders need to be crystal clear about their foundation and intentions before they can work on creating a personal presence. It is the foundational work for setting limits and boundaries.