Executive presence elevates resilience
We have all heard about executive presence and how it helps elevate our organizational effectiveness. However, you might wonder if you have the Right Stuff. Like the astronauts in the movie, we may push ourselves to the limit to achieve great things. However, without building the right set of skills, we’ll fail to gain the right level of believability.
If you follow my blogs, you know that I got introduced to Jeff Shannon’s book Hard Work Is Not Enough, which outlines surprising truths about advancing at work. However, I am always looking to build my leadership skills. You may be aware that LinkedIn offers training like Prepare to Lead: Developing Presence and Developing Executive Presence. Both help professionals inspire confidence among fellow leaders and team members. Yet, in the resilience sphere, we may often focus on mastering hard skills rather than developing these abilities, which are crucial differentiators.
Right here, right now
Most assume that hard work and achieving goals are rewarded with promotions or program advancement. It is a hard lesson to learn that it’s not accurate. Instead, your ability to project confidence, clarity, and alleviate uncertainty are the skills needed. Someone with executive presence exudes self-assurance and self-possession. Doing this is what’s required to champion your resilience program. More than ever, professionals must leverage these leadership attributes to communicate effectively with leaders and boards.
Crafting or enhancing your current abilities will advance your program and career. You will become the torchbearer of resilience by learning how to develop your presence, influence coworkers, and share compelling stories. Elevating communication skills to connect with your audience and display credibility will assist you in delivering on your resilience objectives. Investing in skill-building now will reap near-term dividends.
Hard work is not enough
There’s no substitute for credibility. And this is the cornerstone of our dilemma. Most of us focus on becoming subject matter experts in our field. At least, I know I did! I thought the more degrees, certifications, and abilities showed I knew my stuff, that career advancement would follow. Sadly, the reality is that exuding ongoing executive presence does more to elevate resilience programs than metrics or accomplishing objectives.
And yes, doing those things have value, as outlined in my Resilience Series – Metrics & Measurements. However, the ability to convey the criticality of the program in a compelling, believable, and genuine way is as important as program administration. Said another way, how you deliver the message is as important, if not more, in some cases than the message itself. So, if you’ve ever wondered how some people reach the c-suite quickly, this is the answer. Exhibiting a passion for the work in a way that inspires and reflects leadership attributes will progress resilience and strengthen your position professionally.
Win some, win some
Now, executive presence has several definitions. Shortly, I will describe how to gain skills and attributes that will help you. In my late twenties, I got my first directorship position. It was my third role after college, and I supervised two staff. To this day, the supervision of one of my direct reports was the best coaching experience I had. The other remains one of the worst. Throughout the experience, I dared to lead, guiding personal older than I. Additionally, I learned from my mistakes.
To this day, I credit my success with conveying a commitment to the mission and demonstrating leadership qualities. I learned a great deal along the way and wasn’t perfect, but I engendered trust from my management. Later, I evolved those learnings into additional management roles. Even when not directly supervising personnel, the skills I gained to exert influence and daring to lead served me well. Today, I understand that executive presence is needed to influence outcomes and empower enterprise-wide resilience.
How to increase exec presence and influence
Manifesting executive presence shows c-suite readiness. You may not aspire to be a Chief Resilience Officer yourself, but you want to demonstrate that level of reliability. Furthermore, these leaders cultivate and articulate visionary perspectives. Additionally, they are trusted to make sound upper management decisions.
So, you can develop, learn or increase your capabilities in this skill-base in the following ways:
- Training: Besides the courses I already mentioned, opportunities like Updated Executive Presence, Skill Share Cultivating Executive Presence, or Udemy’s 7-in-1 Executive Presence Masterclass are all ways to invest little money and time into upscaling your capabilities.
- Academic Courses: Many colleges or executive education programs exist if you prefer more in-depth coursework. Columbia’s Business School offers a suite of Leadership Programs, Wharton’s offers Executive Presence and Influence, and Cornell provides an Executive Presence Certificate.
- Mentorship: One of the best ways to build your skills is active support provided by an internal or external mentor. The coaching provided can come in many forms, whether formal or informal. A mentor helps guide and develop your abilities, providing targeted feedback, sharing experiences, and acting as a trusted advisor.
- Sponsorship: An executive sponsor is someone who authorizes resources in support of your resilience program’s (new) initiatives. However, an executive may also help lift you, working closely with you to elevate your status within the company.
Learn or elevate your exec presence skills
Now, you might be asking, what are the attributes of successful executive presence? Some of these are:
- Exhibit believability: As Jeff Shannon says, act like an owner and demonstrate alignment with your company and leadership.
- Upsell Your Presentation Skills: I intentionally used the phrase “upsell‘ here. And although known as a marketing trick, we all know it works! Here I’m conveying not to undersell yourself but let your best self shine. Don’t be afraid to display your value to the organization–but also be able to back it up.
- Communicate With Purpose: Don’t go too far into the weeds unless asked. Learn to read your audience and provide them with the right level of information. In most cases, less is more.
- Meeting Attendance Value: Only attend conversations “in person” where you are needed to weigh in. You can respond to most inquiries via email or a quick phone call; you don’t need to accept every invitation.
- Deliver Strategic Thinking: For this one, give yourself the time and space to focus on programmatic strategy and build it into your schedule. Then, execute your plan in support of your program’s objectives.
- Become a Resilience Zen Master: In The Problem With Multitasking, I advocated that resilience practitioners cultivate zen attributes of appearing calm and capable under stress, along with providing wise counsel in crises. Be the person who delivers effective responses when risks become a reality.
These are just a few suggestions that will help you get started. I also wanted to note that I do not endorse any of the training or courses listed; please do your due diligence. Choosing learning opportunities best suited to your budget, schedule, and learning style are essential. Any books I suggest I have read and encourage you to do as well. Now, go out there and craft your executive presence.