If you’re in leadership, you’ve likely been advised before of the importance of executive presence. Observe leaders you admire and you’ll notice that they are skilled communicators who speak and act with confident and poise, but executive presence is more than just attitude. Fortune magazine says that “executive presence is the ability of the leader to engage, align, inspire and move people to act.” How can you build these abilities and aptitudes and make a positive impact? Here are several tips:
Work on being a great communicator. Communication tops the list of important traits held by professionals with strong executive presence—and this isn’t simply about articulating yourself effectively when writing and speaking. When you interact with others, strive to make them feel comfortable and heard through attentive listening. Think before you speak to make sure your words are never contradictory or confusing. Be direct and decisive, but not harsh.
Express good body language. It is undeniable that a leader who comes across as confident and professional earns respect. Actions are a huge part of that, of course, but you can build trust with colleagues by embracing a few simple habits. Make eye contact during conversation. When speaking in front of a group, speak loud enough, maintain good posture and avoid fidgeting. And always give strong, engaged handshakes.
Dress for success. Like it or not, your appearance matters. Take care to dress appropriately for your workplace, whether that means business casual, business professional or something in between. Never go to work wearing unclean or ill-fitting clothes. Take care to look your best every single day.
Be approachable. Too many leaders act with authority but forget about the importance of being personable. Spend as much time listening to your colleagues and employees as you do speaking to them. Don’t be afraid to let your guard down from time to time by showing your warmth and personality.
Be the calming force. Every company encounters times of challenge. When confronting a challenge, continually assess the situation without panicking, make decisions with confidence and change course when needed. Own that you will make mistakes and be ready for the unexpected. Above all, keep in mind that strategic thinking is key to handling crisis situations.
Your executive presence is an essential part of your ability to lead effectively. It earns you upfront respect and puts people at ease because they feel comfortable trusting and believing in you. And from a performance standpoint, it will serve you well when you move to rally your employees to achieve a big goal or navigate a tough challenge. So, put in the effort to cultivate your executive presence. The investment will be well worth it.