Kshitij has a practical experience of over 3000 plus hours of professional coaching. In a career spanning over two decades he has coached hundreds of leaders, both women and men, from organizations such as Microsoft, JP Morgan, Airbus, Wipro, Cisco, Deutsche Bank, Accenture, HSBC, KPMG, Grant Thornton, E&Y, Actuant, Voisin Bioscience, Societe General and many more.
His deeper understanding of the challenges and yearnings of the senior corporate leaders in the wide array of roles like CEOs, Country Heads and various CXOs has helped him coach these leaders on goals spanning from Priority Management to Emotional Intelligence and from Business/Career growth to Public Speaking.
Kshitij is a passionate advocate of Women to be in Leadership roles and he is very well known in the industry for coaching leaders on creating a powerful Executive Presence. Besides being an Executive coach for CXOs, Kshitij is also a Mentor-Coach and supports a lot of aspiring Executives coaches in their journey to be an ICF certified coach.
Kshitij’s coaching philosophy is that we all have all the answers within us. We just need somebody to support us in discovering them through asking powerful questions. Awareness of our purpose is the first step in rediscovering greatness within. Once we are aware of our “Why”, all the right actions emerge which leads to success and fulfilment. Kshitij’s own “Why” has been to support leaders in this philosophy and be a catalyst in their journey to be more fulfilled and successful in their careers.
I have been coaching high-performing leaders on the threshold of CXO positions for over a decade now.
I have supported them in moving towards their growth trajectory and enabled them to achieve the much-desired promotions.
It's humbling and gratifying that many leaders became CXOs and country heads after the coaching journey.
But more importantly, my most immense happiness is that I was able to be a catalyst in enabling all these leaders to rediscover their greatness through coaching. And was able to support them in building a powerful Executive Presence., Currently, I am living in a fulfillment zone where every wake-up hour is a blessing 😊
But things were just the opposite sometime back in my corporate career. I had been stuck in a particular position in a global bank for a long period without any promotion.
I was stressed.
I have had significant self-doubts about my capabilities.
My wake-up moment
In my journey of developing Executive Presence, I went through a phase of having a mediocre presence.
I was working in a global bank. Over the years in my work life, getting awards, praises, salary hikes, and high ratings became a norm but very few promotions in several years.
I was so frustrated that I went to my manager to know what was happening.
He said, "Kshitij; you are a great asset to the organization. But I think you lack Executive Presence to take up senior roles". It struck me. I asked, "what the heck is Executive Presence?" He said all your stakeholders respect your technical abilities, but the senior management hardly knows you or notices your Presence. I reflected, and I found it accurate because I was pretty reserved. I used to keep the conversations with senior leaders strictly formal. I never tried to build any rapport with any of my stakeholders. And I recollected with some leaders my condition was so bad that I even avoided eye contact with them. :-). There was a particular leader; if I saw him coming, I would take a longer route only to avoid eye contact. 😊
This realization was an eye-opener for me.
Moment of Transformation
Though the above realization was an eye-opener, I started feeling very profoundly inside that I am good for nothing and cannot grow as I don't have a powerful executive presence. And that word Executive presence stayed with me.
To my good fortune at that time, I had an opportunity to meet a great mentor, and I told him how desperately I wanted to be a leader.
He heard me intently, and looking into my eyes, he said, "You don't have to become a leader...You are a leader.
You have within you all what it takes.
It would help if you rediscovered your greatness."
That was a moment of profound transformation for me. I realized that rediscovering greatness means that I already have the elements of Executive Presence within me, and I need to make some efforts to rediscover it and hone it.
From there started my journey to hone my executive presence, took up several excellent pieces of training, got mentored under the best of coaches in the world, and became very passionate about this subject.
And I started experiencing a professional transformation both inside and outside.
In the journey towards honing my executive Presence, I observed several corporate leaders struggling with a similar challenge.
Competent but not growing in their careers.
Not only corporate leaders, but I also discovered that several startup founders could not scale up despite having great ideas, a great team, and excellent products.
And the reason was common for all, lack of a powerful executive presence.
I resolved that I need to support these leaders in reaching their greatness.
Eventually, I founded two organizations in the space of leadership development. I started professionally coaching from 10 years to those senior leaders who, too, wanted to be fulfilled and successful in their careers.
Penetrating insights about Executive Presence
Over the years, in my journey to hone my executive presence, I realized that Executive Presence has the word Presence, which means Being Present.
It also means when your Presence is inspiring for your team.
Your Presence is generating trust and confidence amongst your stakeholder.
Your Presence is influencing.
Your Presence is calming and soothing, and charismatic.
Executive Presence is the powerful impact a leader creates in their ecosystem when they rediscover that greatness within them.
Leaders stagnate in a particular role/course in their careers due to certain myths they unconsciously carry. I, too, had these myths.
Over the years, as I started working with senior leaders towards honing their Executive Presence, these myths got busted.
I used to think that to grow, I needed to be competent at my work. And only technical knowledge and skills will take me up there and nothing else.
And that’s a widespread perception.
However, on our journey from middle management to senior management (CXO level), people skills or softer skills play a far more critical role.
Here are some Research-based Facts
Research conducted by Harvard University, the Carnegie Foundation, and Stanford Research Center show that 85% of job success comes from having well‐developed soft and people skills. Only 15% of job success comes from technical skills and knowledge (hard skills).
A lot of leaders feel the other way.
I had an opportunity to work with a senior leader. He was highly competent in his subject matter and highly respected in the organization for his knowledge and expertise, but he was not getting a promotion. He was stuck at a Vice President level in his Global org for over eight years.
I suggested that he take up a 360-degree assessment in our coaching conversation.
He resisted. He told me how it does matter. I am good at my work, and that’s all that matters. On my insistence, he went ahead.
He was shocked to see the outcome.
Most stakeholders had expressed their inability to work with him because of his aggressive communication style—a Wolf.
His challenge was that he was unaware that he was very blunt and straightforward in his communication. At times he was saying something which was hurting his key stakeholders.
It was a blind spot for him.
At first, he resisted and got angry, and refused to take this feedback,
Gradually in our series of conversations, he came to terms with it, which laid the foundation of the transformation journey in his communication style. From wolf, he moved to be an elephant, powerful yet elegant.
Over one year, he turned around his perception and established long-term and sustainable relationships leading to his promotion in the following six months.
Many leaders get it wrong; having solid competence is not sufficient for growth; we also need to have the right mindset to portray our excellent work to the world comfortably without any guilt.
I come across many leaders who are hesitant to talk about themselves.
And they end up losing a lot of opportunities because of this self-sabotaging mindset.
This self-sabotaging mindset is rooted in a false belief system from early childhood. If children share their accomplishments, they are labeled as self-bragging and looked down upon by their teachers and parents.
My mentor once told me,” Kshtij, It’s a disservice if you are keeping quiet about your work as you are keeping it away from people who can get benefitted from this”.
Here is a simple grid to describe this in the context of Executive Presence.
Y-axis is The Level of Internal Growth that a leader has achieved
The X-axis is the extent of External Projection that a leader does
If Internal Growth is substantial and the external projection is meager, it results in a mild presence. We come across so many leaders who are in this category.
On the contrary, if the internal growth is shallow, but the eternal projection is too much, that is a lot of bragging. It is called Loud Presence. We see a lot of leaders with low substance and all talk, and they stagnate after reaching a certain level.
But those leaders who have focused highly on nurturing themselves and are equally comfortable letting the world know about it are known to have a powerful executive presence.
So the second insight is around our mindset.
It’s not just essential to have a strong competence, but it is also necessary to have the mindset to convey your excellent work to the world comfortably.
Great leaders never hesitate to talk about their excellent work.
I discovered that the biggest myth which prevents very able people from growing in their careers is a false perception about their being /identity.
“I am not good enough….”
It is one of the biggest reasons for stagnation at a particular level. Some leaders don’t grow as they have a false identity about their being despite possessing great qualities, skills, and ideas.
Besides being a great painter, Michael Angelo was also a great sculptor. He is known for creating the statue of David.
Once, he was working on a statue, and an admirer told him, wow, Michael, what a great sculpture you are creating.
He looked at him, smiled, and said, well, I am not creating this statue. This block of stone already has the statue inside it. I am just chipping away the unnecessary stuff… 😊
The same thing happened to me when I believed that I was good for nothing in my corporate career.
When my mentor reminded me, I started rediscovering that innate greatness and honing my Executive Presence.
So the insight is, “You have all that it takes. It would help if you rediscovered that greatness within.
Those leaders who can connect with that innate greatness either through coaching or mentoring or through self-reflection can powerfully nurture their executive Presence.
You, too, have that innate greatness within; take some time out to rediscover it.