Have you ever met someone who “owned the room,” as they say? That’s called presence. In that same vein, executive presence is a means to make a statement. It’s more than the physical, but includes how you speak as well as your mannerisms. After all, people make assumptions about you before you even open your mouth. Effective leaders know the importance of presence and use it to their advantage.
But why does executive presence matter? For one, if you have a solid presence, people will feel good about their interactions with you and likely take with them a favorable opinion. Like a lot of things in life, people aren’t naturally born with it. Anyone can learn executive presence. It’s a matter of putting in the time and working on maximizing strengths and minimaxing weaknesses.
Here are a few ways to affect executive presence in a wide variety of professional settings:
- Handle what you can, but delegate when necessary. The most effective leaders know their limitations and aren’t afraid to ask for help or lean on others when necessary. They know that trying to do everything well only results in failure.
- Be mindful of your non-verbal communication. Do you look people in the eye during conversation? Do you come across as warm? Do you give people your undivided attention? Are you sincere in your communication? Have you mastered the art of a firm handshake? All of these things matter and affect reputation.
- Dress for success. That means choosing the right clothes for the occasion. Casual Friday attire is not appropriate for a high-stakes client meeting. If you consistently dress too informal, in time people will start to make unflattering assumptions about you that won’t help your cause.
- Consider your point(s) of difference. What is it that makes you special and how do you flaunt it? Maybe you’re a fabulous baker or you’re great at fixing things. Blog about it or even teach classes in your free time. While it may not be related to your career, sharing your skills and talent with others helps you build a network, assume a leadership role, and unlock opportunities that might not otherwise be possible.
It’s important to know that all of us feel like imposters at one time or another. There is such thing as “faking it ’til you make it.” Having executive presence is about instilling confidence in people that you can handle things even if that makes reaching out to others for support.
Written By Toni Widman