Developing Executive Presence
Building Belief in Your Leadership
The first time Michael saw his CEO speak at a conference, he was amazed by how "together" she was. There must have been more than 100 people in the room, yet she appeared calm, confident and in control.
But there was something else that kept everyone on the edge of their seats. Michael couldn't put his finger on it, but he knew it was an essential quality in a leader. Whatever it was, it earned her a standing ovation – and his respect.
It was her "executive presence" that so impressed Michael and the other members of the audience.
While it can appear that successful people are born with a magic touch, executive presence is something that anyone can learn. In this article, we'll look at how you can develop it yourself, and boost people's belief in your leadership.
What Is Executive Presence?
According to Sylvia Ann Hewlett, author of "Executive Presence: The Missing Link Between Merit and Success," executive presence has three elements:
- Gravitas – how you act.
- Communication – how you speak.
- Appearance – how you look.
We'll examine these elements in more detail a little later in this article.
Hewlett believes that the way you act demonstrates your confidence and your ability to communicate your thoughts and ideas, especially when you're under stress. She says that, nowadays, we value leaders who appear calm, confident and steady, rather than those who use toughness or charisma to build their following.
Executive presence also means being "present" (being focused on the moment) while remaining aware of the concerns and issues affecting the people around you. Researchers at the Roffey Park leadership institute in the U.K. found that being present also helps you to connect with your own sense of personal power, that is, being comfortable in your own skin so that you can work "with," rather than "over," others.
When all these things are in sync, you can create a strong sense of authority and make decisions in a way that builds trust.
Advantages of Executive Presence
Developing executive presence is more than just a question of winning popularity or power. One of its main benefits is that it helps you reduce stress. Managers with executive presence, and who focus their attention on the moment, can cope better with challenges in several ways. The Roffey Park study shows that they demonstrate:...