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If you want to grow your Executive Presence, then you are not alone !
I coach senior leaders across industries and geographies, and for many of them, building their Executive Presence (EP) is one of the top goals
It is something they want to work on, either based on feedback they have received or their own sense of self-awareness
Which I think is great, but the challenge is that most leaders have a very limited understanding of what EP really means
They generally tend to associate EP purely with communication
But the truth is….
EP is a lot more than just communication
So, let’s first understand what exactly is EP ??
..When you are in a room
..When you are in a meeting
..When you are in a town hall
..When you are in a conference
People should sit up and listen to you
They should notice you
You are making your presence felt
EP means that you come across as a leader with a sense of confidence, authority and decisiveness
..You inspire people
..You create a positive impact and a positive energy around you
..You come from a place of authenticity and dignity
..You give direction and clarity
..You create buy-in and bring people along
You inspire confidence in people
And, at the same time, you reflect confidence in your own abilities
You are showcasing your leadership potential
That is what EP is all about
Next, let’s understand why EP is so important today ?
Most of us believe that if we just keep doing what we are doing today, keep our heads down - that is good enough for growth
Unfortunately, that might have helped you in the past, but may not longer be enough for your future progress
As the saying goes - Whatever has made you successful up to this point of time, will not take you further. Period
A lot of leaders are very good in execution or daily fire-fighting. That's what they are known for and that's how they have grown through the ranks
It’s a great skill to have, but the problem is that over time, it creates a perception that you are only good in day-to-day execution, but you are
NOT good at strategic level.
You cannot think about the future
And in order to change that perception, you need to develop your strong EP
If you look at organizational structures today, they are much more complex than ever before, right ?
You have global stakeholders, functional stakeholders, regional stakeholders….
It would not be fair to assume that all your stakeholders are fully aware of what you are doing and what you are driving
So, there is a need to be intentionally present, be more visible in front of stakeholders
That is a part of building your EP
As you grow more and more senior in your career, the pyramid gets narrower and narrower, right?
You are competing with a smaller set of people who are equally talented and capable
There is very little to differentiate
So how do you stand out?
This is where EP can play a very important role, helping you stand out in the crowd
EP can be a big factor determining your future growth, determining the new opportunities you get - whether it's promotion, bigger projects, global roles etc
So now that you know what EP is all about and why it is important, let’s look at what are the core pillars of EP ?
And this is where you need to develop a more holistic understanding of EP ( beyond just communication )
As per my experience, there are 6 core pillars of EP which you need to focus on:
1. Strategic Thinking
How do you think strategically as a leader?
Can you think about a future vision, which is inspiring and compelling?
How do you drive people along towards that vision?
How do you develop big picture thinking ?
..When you think and talk about the future
..When you are constantly thinking of challenging the status quo and change
Then, you are demonstrating your thought leadership
This goes without saying, right ?
Communication in terms of the context, content, language and delivery
Including the art of business storytelling :
..How do you tell stories ?
..How do you draw your audience in ?
..How do you inspire people to take action ?
While listening is a part of communication, but I am highlighting it separately to showcase its connection with EP
..When you listen with true intent
..When you are paying attention to what is being discussed
..When you are observing the flow of discussions
It allows you to think and give strategic inputs
It allows you to ask powerful and insightful questions - question which challenge people's thinking
And that's a great way to showcase your EP
4. Taking charge
How do you lead the way?
A lot of times people get into discussions, but they are afraid of taking charge
You are okay to step away and let other take charge
But leadership is all about stepping up and taking a stand
You give opinions and you lead the discussions
Similarly, sometimes, you will have very good ideas, but you do not speak up in a meeting
After the meeting, you come back and say to yourself “Damn, I should have spoken about it!”
Rings a bell ?
Leaders always take a stand
A lot of people are very happy holding the middle ground. They don't want to go this side or that side because they don't want to ruffle feathers
But taking a stand and giving direction is one of the ways to showcase your leadership
5. Growth Mindset
Most of us have our own self-doubts about our own capabilities
You constantly question yourself
Like I mentioned above, you could have a great point to speak in an important board meeting, but you might think….
What will happen if I say it?
What will people think about it?
Maybe it's the wrong idea?
Maybe I'll get questioned?
And you will hold yourself back
Having a strong sense of self-belief and confidence is really important for you as a leader
Demonstrating strong EP means being aware of your own self-doubts and negative self-talk and working through them to create positive outcomes
I believe in this idea
I'm going to speak up
If I get objections, I will handle them with confidence
6. Stakeholder Management
This is probably one of the least understood pillars of EP
When you're dealing with senior stakeholders, how do you build relationships with them?
..How do you know what their business priorities are?
..How do you gain support for your thoughts and ideas?
..How do you anticipate objections in a meeting?
Your ability to navigate the organization, engage with the right stakeholders and get sponsorship is a great way to build your EP
So those were the 6 core pillars of EP
EP is not just about communication
It’s much more than that
The good part is that all of the above skills can be developed over time
And these will help you to project yourself as a strategic and thought leader, eventually opening up the doors of new opportunities and possibilities
Over to you
Which of the 6 pillars of EP do YOU struggle the most in?
And if you would like to develop a strong EP, drop me a note or book your introductory call here (Book Your Call) !