There is a common misconception that executive presence is something you are born with, however the latest data shows that it is something you can learn and cultivate. It’s the ability to inspire your employees to follow you, your peers to rely on you and senior leaders to believe in your potential. Executive presence is important because it determines the quantity and quality of opportunities you’ll gain access to. Based on your executive presence, senior decision makers will decide whether or not to promote you, assign you to a critical project or give you key responsibilities.
For some people, building an executive presence comes naturally. But if you’re not a natural, you’ll have to work at it. Keep the following tips in mind:
- Carry yourself well. It’s important to be aware of your body language. Avoid slouching or looking down — instead, walk, stand and sit with your back straight, your shoulders back and your chin up. Focus on breathing deeply and calmly.
- Look the part. Wear attire that makes you feel good. Of course, it has to be appropriate to the setting — don’t wear jeans, a t-shirt and sneakers to a corporate meeting — but it can still be an expression of you. Make sure that everything else — your hair, accessories and, if applicable, your makeup — complements your look. There shouldn’t be anything out of sync or it will detract from your executive presence.
- Know how to articulate your vision. Forbes advises that you need to be able to explain your vision to others in a clear, concise manner, whether that’s in a two-minute elevator pitch or at a meeting with your team. This is key to inspiring confidence.
- Hone your communication skills. To lead others, you have to be able to communicate with them, so perfect your speaking, listening and writing skills.
- Expand your network. The more people you know, the more people you can learn from and influence — plus, the more opportunities you’ll have. Grow your network and actively cultivate relationships that are of value to you.
- Remain calm under stress. As a leader, people will look to you for guidance in busy or uncertain times. No matter how panicked you feel on the inside, you have to learn to remain calm and function properly so your employees will trust you to see them through to the other side.
- Get feedback on how you’re perceived. Talk to others — your peers, your mentor and even your employees — to find out what other people think about you. Use their feedback to fine-tune your executive presence. For example, if people think you’re too serious, learn how to use humor to get your point across.
Finally, remember to always be authentic to yourself. If you’re not authentic, people will know, and you won’t succeed in building an executive presence. In contrast, if you use these tips to create a better, more assertive version of yourself, they’ll trust you, believe in you and follow you.