Executive Presence Is an Inside Job

Although we speak about executive presence as how one looks and acts and how they are perceived by others, it must start within. Otherwise, your attempts at boosting your executive presence are only creating window dressing, not enacting real change.

Authentic leadership requires more than a display of the trappings of power. You must cultivate a magnetism that unites a fragmented audience in working toward common goals—a skill that is hard but can be learned, practiced and improved.

Your ongoing choices and actions (or lack thereof) have a considerable impact on your presence. Improvement requires you to shift your mindset, develop new behaviors and leave your comfort zone of safe habits.

It’s often helpful to engage an experienced professional coach who can provide feedback on how you’re perceived. It’s worth the investment of time, energy and finances, as you’ll ultimately become a more effective leader.

An Inside Job

Presence comes from within. Your mindset creates the platform from which you speak, act and express emotions. Effective leaders must be confident, energetic, empathic, inspirational, credible and authentic.

This requires taking a hard look at yourself. Begin by paying attention to how you “show up” and go about your day. How do you:

  • Connect with people?
  • Express your feelings?
  • Listen?
  • Behave?
  • Inspire others?

Every move you make on the corporate stage merges to form your leadership impact.

As Kristi Hedges writes in The Power of Presence:

“Executive presence begins in your head. It resides in how you think about yourself, your abilities, your environment, and your potential.”

In the work I do coaching executives, we start with examining intentions. Intentions drive and create executive presence. All the polish and coaching in the world won’t make up for your thought patterns, habits, assumptions and actions.

To develop presence, start by clarifying your intentions. Ask yourself:

  • Which core values and guiding purpose truly matter (for me, for the company)?
  • Who do I intend to be (as an individual, as a member of the company)?
  • How do I intend to contribute?
  • What will I do now? What will I do next?

I find that leaders need to be crystal clear about their intentions first before they can work on creating a personal presence.

What do you think? I’d love to hear from you; comment below or get in touch with me!

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