What can we do to overcome bad leadership?

Executive Presence: Intention, Connection, Inspiration

When I work with my clients on developing their executive presence, I usually start with discussing intentions. What are the core values that drive you and your leadership?

Then, we work on connection skills. How do you relate to the individuals with whom you’re charged to motivate and inspire? What’s the quality of your conversations? Do you take time to get to know them? Do you encourage them to speak up?

At the core of leadership is connection with others. The relationships you have with your subordinates determine how effectively you’ll influence them toward desired outcomes.

If you foster trust and empathy in your relationships, you’ll no doubt build higher-quality connections. But authentic connections can be tricky: Access to others is granted, and not automatically. A leadership position may ensure obedience (if you’re lucky), but it doesn’t guarantee the trusted connections that are required for a truly healthy and functional organization.

Authentic Connections

Winning over hearts and minds requires a nuanced approach to each individual. There are no timesaving ways to accomplish this, nor should you do it simply because “it’s good for business.”

Making individual connections is the only way to have a finger on the pulse of corporate culture and keep communication lines open.

Leaders who foster connection and approachability encourage people to speak truth to power. If you come across as super-confident and über-competent, you may intimidate people. There’s no room for idea-sharing when all of the power clearly resides with the leader. You must show some vulnerability and humanity to facilitate connection.

Of course, too much vulnerability can be read as weakness. There needs to be a balance. When you show competency and your humanity, others begin to trust and connect. What makes a leader or colleague memorable to us is this sense of connection.

Presence starts deep within you: with intentions, self-knowledge and self-confidence. Connect with your people to find common goals and mutual benefits. Use empathy, trust and connection to motivate and inspire others. You can find a number of articles on my blog that address these aspects of executive presence.

Presence is most effective when it’s ingrained in your muscle/brain memory and put into practice automatically. This is why it’s so important to work with a trusted coach or mentor who gives you honest feedback.

What do you think? I’d love to hear about how you’ve cultivated your executive presence (or, if you haven’t yet, I’d love to chat about how to change that).

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