Creating executive presence – how well a person speaks, looks, and acts like a leader- is the big buzz in training circles these days. According to a new study by the Center for Talent Innovation, being perceived as leadership material is essential to being promoted into leadership positions, and executive presence counts for 26% of what it takes to get promoted.
But as I discussed in a recent newsletter, perceptions are often false friends. You can be clear on your intentions and still not be perceived the way you intended because your actions aren’t clear enough and not aligned with what you say.
When there is a disconnect between what we say and what we do – most people will pay attention to what we do. How well do we observe and read our own actions? Most of leadership training focuses on making us experts at reading other people’s actions and focus primarily on building communications skills. But as Ralph Waldo Emerson said so eloquently:
“Who you are speaks so loudly, I can hardly hear what you’re saying.”
So how do you improve your executive presence?
“Executive presence begins in your head. It resides in how you think about yourself, your abilities, your environment, and your potential.” ~ Kristi Hedges, The Power of Presence: Unlock Your Potential to Influence and Engage Others, Amacom, 2012
The best way to do this is to get meaningful and honest feedback and then act on it. Unfortunately, this can be easier said than done as many successful leaders just don’t have anyone that they can speak to, in a safe and professional environment, who understands both complex business issues but also has the professional expertise of a coach…and this is too important to leave to chance or misbeliefs. At the risk of sounding self-promoting, this is where having an experienced, trusted mentor or skilled coach is crucial! They use their expertise and experience to help you understand how your actions are perceived by others and give specific and pragmatic tips on what to do about it.
What kinds of things are you doing to see yourself and your actions the way others do? How do you keep focused on how to re-invent your leadership behavior?