A couple of years ago, I met a business head in the Global Technology firm – A warm, simply dressed person, from non-english speaking background, who spoke with an accent. This person had been unable to move up the ladder to senior leadership and missed a couple of promotion cycles – He was told to develop ‘Executive Presence’ – and this had nothing to do with his language or accent.
When I first heard the term ‘Executive presence’ (EP) more than 15 years ago, I wasn’t quite sure what it meant. Presence of top leadership in a room was enough executive presence for me! As I moved up the supervisory hierarchy, I thought, it had more to do with the charisma and awe you inspire among other people. Which brought me to think, what actually is charisma and awe. Are non-charismatic leaders non-effective. Well that certainly is not true. So, if it’s not charisma, is executive presence just a feature of your external personality – the way you speak, dress and the attitude you carry, even in tough situations?
What is EP?
Over the years, I realised, EP means different things to different people. To some, it is the ability to project confidence and gravitas. Or, ability to inspire and empower people to perform beyond their job and demonstrated capability. To some it could be innate, others could develop some skills that work, while some would still be wandering in the woods in search of the holy grail of EP! So is EP a skill or talent, your innate or exhibited personality? And why does it really matter in the workplace?
In our work at ValueMined with leaders across industries, we have found that the most basic principle defining EP is TRUST. Executive presence is your ability to build trust across your relationships – with team, clients and in every interaction. Your ability to inspire trust that you are there to support them, watch their back and help them grow. As a result, It is about what you make people feel more than what you are feeling in every interaction.
How to develop EP?
So how can you inspire trust in others? Stay tuned for our exclusive tools!
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