Do You Have Executive Presence?

Vicky had just finished giving her project update at the department meeting. She felt relieved that it finally was over.  She had been so busy, she hadn’t had time to prepare as much as she would have liked.  So, she was nervous.

Vicky’s boss, Juanita, wanted to speak with her after the meeting. “Vicky,” she said, “you know the details of your project well, but, it doesn’t come across that way during your reports at the department meeting. You need to be able to confidently communicate that you’re managing this project well and moving it forward. And, don’t be defensive when the group asks you questions. They’re simply trying to get information. Communicating clearly and confidently are important to your career.  People judge your potential with each interaction with you.”

When someone tells you, “you need to work on your executive presence,” what does that mean? And, where do you start?  Because executive presence is more than a single dimension, you likely already possess some of the qualities. But, you need to be aware of your gaps so you can close them.

How do you get objective feedback you need to make meaningful and noticeable enhancements?

Assess Your Executive Presence

The first thing you should do is get a better understanding of where you are on the four dimensions of executive presence (business intelligence, business impact, relationships, and reputation), identifying what you’re missing and, therefore, where you need to give more attention. 

A deeper self-assessment of your executive presence will give you a more detailed understanding of the variables you already have a handle on and areas that need more attention. Take the full assessment to see where you stand.  You can also ask others to complete the assessment whom you trust to give you objective feedback.

 Review Your Performance Appraisals

A third resource for assessing your executive presence are your performance appraisals.  What have been the trends in the feedback you’ve been given as it relates to these four dimensions of executive presence?  The words “executive presence” may not be actually referenced in your review. But, remember, it’s the combination of factors that comprise your executive presence.  So, look for related comments.  In addition to reviewing your performance appraisals, have a discussion with your boss to more fully understand their perspectives. 

Ask the Opinion of Others

A fourth resource for assessing your executive presence is to ask other people what their impressions are. Ask your personal board of directors or a mentor for their personal opinions. Coworkers that you have a trusted relationship with also are a good source for feedback. What are the formal and informal, or ‘water cooler’, perceptions of your executive presence? Ask for real time feedback so that you can capture thoughts while fresh on people’s minds. Inquire about the impressions of both the four dimensions of executive presence (business intelligence, business impact, relationships, and reputation), and, in general, your overall executive presence.  Make sure you remain objective and open to feedback. People won’t be honest with you if you are defensive or unwilling to receive what is shared.

Take all the insights from your sources of feedback and identify the trends.  What are the common themes that emerge?  Are there certain situations where you tend to do better or not as well? Review the insights with your mentor or personal board of directors. They can provide objective perspectives in drawing conclusions, and can help you understand the expectations for executive presence within your organization. This will take you into planning your actions as a result of what you learn.

To troubleshoot your executive presence and find out where you might need to improve, click here to download my guide to know where you are going wrong and increasing your executive presence.

What’s Sabotaging Your Executive Presence?

Do you want to advance in your career?  If your goal is to rise up through the ranks quickly, you’ve got to have executive presence.  The impressions you leave can directly impact your ability to move up in the organization, to be trusted with greater and more important responsibilities, and to be an influencer. You don’t have to be an executive to be concerned about your executive presence.  Your executive presence, or lack thereof, can affect you from the start to the end of your career.

Executive presence is a combination of demonstrable outcomes and soft skills that come together to comprise your complete package.  Executive presence is the leadership or executive level capacity others see in you.  It is your package of business savvy, relationship savvy, and professional style.  

When someone tells you, “you need to work on your executive presence,” what does that mean? And, where do you start?  Because executive presence is more than a single dimension, you likely already possess some of the qualities. The first thing you should do is get a better understanding of where you are on the four dimensions of executive presence (business intelligence, business impact, relationships, and reputation), identifying what you’re missing and, therefore, where you need to give more attention. 

Are You Making These Common Mistakes?

In my observations, work, and discussions with professionals at various stages of their careers, I’ve come across 15 of the most common mistakes professionals make across the four dimensions of executive presence. Like many other professionals, you often don’t even realize the impact these mistakes have on the perceptions of your executive presence or your career. 

Review the list below.  Which of these mistakes may be impacting your career?

  • You Lack Business Intelligence 
  1. You don’t keep up to date with your knowledge of the business and industry as much as you should. You sometimes appear to be off the mark in decision making and setting priorities.
  2. You haven’t been invited to the meetings where leaders discuss the quarterly financials. So, you don’t proactively inquire to understand the drivers of revenue, profitability, and operations.
  3. You can’t remember the company’s mission, vision, or strategic priorities.
  • Your Business Impact Is Insignificant
  1. You’re not sure how your work impacts your team or organization’s success.
  2. You take projects as they come, not considering their importance to your team’s or the company’s business priorities.  
  3. You have a hard time demonstrating your impact on key business initiatives and priorities.
  4. You’re not inspired by the work you do and/or your work environment, which makes it tough to give your best.
  • You’re Missing Important Relationships
  1. You’re more of an introvert, which makes you uncomfortable reaching out to form constructive working relationships. 
  2. You haven’t proactively built a network of allies whom you can engage to get things done. 
  3. You’re afraid to speak up with your ideas and opinions, limiting your influence among others in the organization.
  • You’re Not Managing Your Reputation
  1. You’re modest and don’t want to seem boastful. So, others aren’t aware of your personal contributions to the growth of the business and on the success of key business initiatives and priorities.
  2. Your approach in interacting with others sometimes comes across negatively or differently than you intend. So, you’re not necessarily seen as a team player.
  3. You don’t come across as confident and knowledgeable when presenting or speaking.
  4. You dress more ‘casual’ than ‘business’.
  5. You inconsistently demonstrate the leadership values and characteristics respected by your organization.  Leaders don’t connect you with future leadership potential (runway). 

To troubleshoot your executive presence and find out where you might need to improve, click here to download my guide to know where you are going wrong and increasing your executive presence. 

If you’re attending the National Association of Women MBA’s conference, make sure you attend my session on Friday morning, October 20, 2017.