Executive Presence is a highly misunderstood word in the industry. Different people have different definitions of Executive Presence. Some people think it is charisma, and others believe it is about interpersonal skills.
Definition of Executive Presence
According to Sylvia Ann Hewitts, who has written a book called “Executive Presence – The missing link between merit and success,” Executive Presence is a cohesive mix of appearance, communication, and gravitas.
She says that it is essential that people perceive you as someone having leadership material. In this book, she writes in detail about how one can recognize and embody the Executive Presence that one needs to succeed.
She says that you may have the experience and qualifications of a leader, but without having Executive Presence, you cannot move ahead in your career.
In my opinion, Executive Presence is the impact a leader creates on its ecosystem when they rediscover their greatness within. It is a presence that is noticed by one and all.
Executive Presence has the word “presence” in it. It means being present for others and having an inspiring presence for your team members. It also means you have a presence generating trust and confidence in your internal and external clients, and your Presence is calming, soothing, and charismatic.
As an Executive Presence Coach, my work is to support leaders in enhancing their Executive Presence and rediscovering their greatness within. I believe that we all have distinction within us, we need to discover it, and one can do it effectively with the support of an Executive Presence Coach.
Why Executive Presence?
So here are some of the critical reasons why a senior leader should have a powerful Executive Presence?
1. Improved visibility for the CXO roles: As the Executive Presence of a leader increases, it leads to higher visibility for the CXO roles. It is because due to the increased Presence, people notice the leaders and remember them.
2. Powerful Executive Presence can lead to higher trust and confidence in the team: When a leader has a powerful executive presence, people around them trust them more and have more confidence in them.
3. Enhanced ease of execution of their vision and ideas: The leaders with Executive Presence can easily influence all stakeholders (inside /outside). It leads to the implementation of their vision and ideas.
4. Can make their teams perform at the highest level: The leaders with Executive Presence can cultivate a high-performance culture in their organization, which results in the growth of the organization and their growth as well.
5. Can get noticed for essential organizational projects: Since more people trust leaders with a powerful Executive Presence, they get seen for vital corporate projects. The top management team wants these leaders to lead those projects that are vital to the organization. It gives them more exposure and eventually leads to their growth within the organization’s hierarchy.
So what happens with leaders who do not have a powerful executive presence? These leaders, despite their great competence, do not grow fast due to following reasons:
1. Remain unnoticed: Even though some leaders may have great competence, they remain unnoticed when they lack Executive Presence. As the saying goes, “out of sight out of mind,” these leaders miss on opportunities that can put them on the next level of orbit in their corporate journey.
2. Don’t get high-profile projects: Due to a lack of Executive Presence, people neither notice nor trust them. So such leaders do not earn high-profile projects, which causes them to remain stuck in one position for a long time. When nobody notices their work, their seniors become oblivious of their Presence and give important projects to others.
3. Can’t get things done: Leaders with low Executive Presence lack people and soft skills to get things done. These leaders struggle to gain the confidence of their people. They face difficulty in getting things done in the absence of such skills.
4. Have difficulty influencing stakeholders: Such leaders have a problem influencing stakeholders. They lack personal rapport, and the stakeholders do not feel connected with such leaders. It leads to hindrance in work and low performance on their part.
5. Don’t have a second line of leaders in their team ready:
Such leaders also fail to create a second line of leaders. They believe in micro-management, so their subordinates depend on them for directions. They do not take accountability or proactively take the initiative on their own. As a result, these subordinates are not ready to take over their roles. This leads to frustration all around them.
6. Get into conflicts very quickly: It becomes very easy for the leaders lacking Executive Presence to get into conflicts because they lack the people and communication skills needed to resolve disputes. Their communication creates conflicts in the organization leading to poor reputation and no growth.
7. Don’t have a personal brand: The visibility and unique brand of the leaders lacking Executive Presence is deficient. This is because despite having all the competence, people are not aware of them and the value they can create.
8. Can’t express themselves with ease: Very often, such leaders cannot express themselves with ease. They are not well articulated. They speak in a very elaborate manner and lack succinctness. People around them get confused and restless if they talk. It impacts their visibility and eventually their growth in the organization.
Solutions to enhance Executive Presence
1. For the leaders willing to enhance their Executive Presence, Executive Presence coaching is a good option. Having an external coach who is unbiased can value add a lot. They can provide authentic feedback in a non-judgmental way leading to fast growth.
2. To enhance one’s Executive Presence having mentors in or outside the organization is another option. Even mentors with outstanding Executive Presence within the organization can play a significant role. It’s helpful if these mentors are seasoned CXOs from different departments. This not only helps get first-hand feedback from people who are already good at a particular thing, but it also helps build good relationships with people who matter in an organization.
3. Role modeling with other successful leaders can also help enhance one’s executive Presence. It is a time-tested method. Having a detailed conversation with role models on their beliefs, values, best practices, etc., can give the leaders a good sense of direction on how to build a powerful executive presence.
Executive Presence is the key to a leader’s growth in any organization. One can develop Executive Presence through focused executive Presence coaching for six to nine months. A small effort to proactively reach out to the various executive coaches helps leaders discover the best executive coach in India over time.