In our increasingly casual, virtual working worlds, are you getting complacent about how you communicate and present yourself to others? Might it be reducing your effectiveness as a leader? Is it holding your career back? Here are three ways to strengthen your executive presence…Yes, it still matters!
How’s Your Confidence Level?
Confidence is a sincere, balanced belief in yourself. It demands a level-headed understanding of your skills and abilities, and being comfortable in that understanding of yourself. Confident people truly believe that they have the ability needed to lead successfully — and the desire to take action.
Self-confident people make a great first (and second) impression; deal well with stress and pressure situations; and enjoy a high degree of credibility. Interestingly, according to Psychology Today, confidence also helps put others at ease. Self-confidence is an important element of executive presence.
One way to build confidence is to set a series of small, but achievable “Goldilocks goals” for yourself. Accomplishing smaller goals feels good and builds your belief in yourself. And it’s a powerful way to get big, daunting projects done!
NEXT STEPS: Identify a significant goal you’d like to achieve in the next 12 months. Break the goal down into 4-5 incremental Goldilocks goals. Then, get to work and notice how your confidence grows as you successfully meet each goal.
Be Your Authentic Self
When it comes to executive presence, no one looks up to someone they see as superficial, not representing their true selves, or worse, scheming or disingenuous. What counts is your honest authenticity. Strive to improve your authentic self, but always be genuine in expressing your personality, your skills, and your weaknesses! Don’t pretend to be what you are not — people are surprisingly adept at seeing through the pretense.
As you identify and acknowledge your authentic self, some personality traits and skills are easy to identify: “I enjoy using humor in the workplace to communicate,” “I am most comfortable with data and facts,” “I readily empathize with others,” “I struggle to read the emotions of others.” But it is often difficult to look in the mirror and see ourselves objectively, as others see us.
NEXT STEPS: Complete a DiSC assessment. DiSC is a great way to look at who you are — especially in the context of the workplace and your interactions with others. It is a proven tool designed to better understand yourself and others — and how everyone interacts and works together. For more, read, “The Value of DiSC for You and Your Team.”
Appearance, Posture, and Poise
Experts in communication report that the majority of our communication is actually non-verbal. We spend an incredible amount of time on what we say, and very little on how we deliver what we say — and people notice. Call it stage presence if you like, but the way we look, behave, and carry ourselves speaks volumes, and is a key component of executive presence.
First, dress appropriately for the situation — in today’s casual business environment, our rule of thumb is to ask yourself, “Am I wearing anything that would distract from my leadership or contribution as a team member?” Wearing an oversize, brightly colored parrot-shaped hair clip may look great and be a wonderful expression of your personality… but if the only thing people remember after your presentation is the parrot hair clip, it was a distraction and did more harm than good.
Pay attention to your body position, posture, facial expressions, and how you use your hands to express yourself. Used with self-awareness, your body language can help you emphasize important points, build credibility, and inspire confidence.
Lastly, in our remote-work-world, virtual meetings turn our dining room, kitchen, spare bedroom, and patio into our office. Consider your space from the point of view of maximizing a sense of professionalism and minimizing background clutter and distractions. Look at your camera angle. Experts report that placing the camera at eye-level is most effective for communication and connection. Use as much natural or blue light as you can to minimize jaundiced-looking complexions and dark shadows.
NEXT STEPS: Give yourself a “studio check” — from how you dress and sit in your chair, to lighting, camera angle, and what’s going on behind you. What changes would help you project your authentic self while supporting a strong, positive perception of your leadership?
For more about executive presence read “Maximizing Executive Presence in the Virtual Space” by Arden executive coach Sharon Krohn, MCC, and “Five Ways to Demonstrate Executive Presence Today.”