Executive presence (EP) is a buzzword that has been gaining popularity in recent years. It refers to the physical, behavioural attributes that define how an executive carries himself and is much fact as it is representation. It inspires confidence and trust which helps younger employees rise the ranks more effectively. If you’re deemed lacking in executive presence, you might miss out on a promotion or other work opportunities. It is important to nurture this element of leadership. Jennifer V. Miller writes about what it means to nurture and develop your EP.
Crack the code on executive presence
Experts agree that executive presence is a combination of personal traits and outward behaviors that create an image of leadership competence and trustworthiness. No matter how you (or your organization) define executive presence, keep in mind that it’s a group of traits and behaviors that starts with you and emanates outward to create a perception of your ability to lead under any circumstance.
Look for leaders who display executive presence. Joel Garfinkle, author of Getting Ahead: Three Steps to Take Your Career to the Next Level, advises that you closely watch respected leaders, noting how they dress, behave and talk. “What qualities and characteristics do they exhibit?” he writes. “How do they conduct meetings? How do they interact with those above them, with their peers and with their staff?”
Cultivate a foundation of quiet confidence
At its core, executive presence is about confidence, yet “the more confidence the better” isn’t necessarily the case. Harvard business school professor Amy Cuddy’s talk on presence is the second-most watched TED Talk of all time. In her book Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges, she writes that that a quiet confidence is best. “Presence is confidence without arrogance,” she explains. “Sadly, confidence is often confused with cockiness,” she continues. But the truly “present” executive is one who doesn’t need to trumpet his achievements. Instead, he or she has an internal resolve driven by what Cuddy describes as “a solid senses of self-worth [that demonstrates] healthy, effective ways of dealing with challenges and relationships.”
Eblin suggests that leaders think in terms of behaviors to “pick up” and “let go”. For example, if you want to build your confidence in a certain situation, frame it in terms of, “I’m going to ‘pick up’ my confidence and ‘let go’ of my doubt about this situation.”
Presence is also about your mindset
In addition to outward behaviors, your mindset also helps you cultivate presence. A large part of how you come across to others is driven by your personal belief in your abilities. Speaking at the WorkHuman conference, Cuddy told the audience, “Presence reveals itself when you believe your story,” likening a lack of belief to “trying to sell something you don’t believe in”. Yet, it’s not about “faking” your abilities. Rather, as Cuddy says, it’s about “believing in and revealing the abilities you truly have . . . and shedding whatever is blocking you from expressing who you are.” Belief in yourself leads to more confidence, which in turn gives you presence.
To increase your chances of leadership success, actively cultivate your executive presence. Belief in your abilities leads to confidence. This in turn creates the positive energy you need to speak and act in a way that builds others’ trust in your competence. Taken together, these elements will help you demonstrate that you are ready to take on new challenges and lead yourself and others to achieve great things.
This post was originally published on Execed.Economist.com. TheYoungProfessionalGroup.com takes no credit for the work of the author.