Executive Presence is frequently talked about in the business world. It’s meant to describe those employees who have the “right stuff” for promotion into leadership roles and positions. While many might believe they possess the proper leadership competencies and personality traits to move up, their boss and peers might not have the same perspective.
Do your employees and future leaders understand Executive Presence? Are they often frustrated when getting passed over for new projects or promotions? Do they know how other team members and managers perceive them? These are questions that HR professionals must help them address as part of their organization's Leadership Development programs.
What is Executive Presence?
First, let's understand exactly what Executive Presence means. Executive Presence is the ability to project leadership, technical, communication and behavioral skills combined with confidence, remaining cool under pressure, poise, assertiveness and appearance. It’s not just having the right professional job experience; it’s exuding your abilities through your demeanor, influence, and business results. You’re sending the “right” signals to others so they perceive you as a leader.
5 Ways to Help Your Employees and Future Leaders Develop Executive Presence
- Help Them Assess Their Current Status
Do they create a positive impression? Are they able to engage and influence others? Does their appearance and communication reflect a commitment to being remarkable? Be honest about it. The only way for them to get better is to have them look at their executive presence and realistically rate themselves to see what areas they need improvement. Use this free short assessment to get started.
- Help Them Develop Their Vision of Career Success
Where do they want to take their career? They'’ll never get there if they don’t have a destination or goal. Help them develop their vision with the GROW model.
- Goal: Begin with a destination. What job title or role do they aspire to? What would they feel if you achieved it?
- Reality Check: Take stock of the situation. Is this role realistic? How has their past job experience prepared them for this new vision?
- Options: Brainstorm possibilities. Brainstorm as many ideas as they can that would support their advancement to this role. What actions can they take to move forward?
- What’s Next? Move the action forward. What is one specific action they can take immediately to be ready for their new role? How committed are they to making this a priority?
- Assess Their Leadership Brand. Have them think of the top 6 to 8 words that best describe themselves. Are they known for being kind, direct, creative, focused, calm or passionate? How are they misperceived or misunderstood? Which single brand characteristic could they focus on to improve?
- Help Them Build Confidence by Seeking FeedForward. Confidence is built through greater self-awareness and truth talk. Unfortunately many people view feedback as “bad” and fear hearing what they are doing “wrong”. Teach them to seek FeedForward by picking one behavior they want to change or improve. Have the employee describe this behavior to a colleague and ask him/her for two suggestions for the future that will help them improve it. Have them listen to these suggestions and thank the colleague for the ideas. Have the employee refrain from commenting on what the colleague said or getting defensive about their suggestions.
- Help them Develop Integrity. Do they value honesty, directness, ambition, creativity, courage, facts, or a supportive atmosphere? Have them rank their top 10 values in order of importance from 1 to 10 and think of a time when their values were tested. Did they deviate from their values under pressure? What would they do differently if they could do it over again?
Once they begin to focus on developing their Executive Presence, they will find their voice as a leader. Their boss and peers will stand up and take notice when they do.