What Is Executive Presence?
In some ways, executive presence is simple. This is because it’s something you can feel without even understanding it cognitively. Occasionally we feel trusting of authority figures. Surprisingly, this can even occur when we’ve just met them. This common experience speaks to the transformative power of executive presence.
But what exactly is executive presence? Executive presence is the spirit that wafts into the room alongside a good boss. It is the air of leadership, confidence, and authority embodied by someone in full command of their executive prowess.
This form of honed articulation has the power to take one very far in their career because it influences how seriously people consider us and our ideas. Therefore, it can prove imperative when doing things such as trying to negotiate a pay raise or motivate a team.
Some people simply possess an innate talent for it, though that still doesn’t mean it isn’t a skill that can be honed like any other. This is crucial for those that feel they lack executive presence because it means that it’s a skill anyone can build and perfect over time.
Listening well to your employees provokes trust and respect from them.
It’s also an important skill. It is the sort of skill that can transform a boss into a leader and inspire trust and faith from employees. It is the type of skill that decides whether or not your ideas are regarded as ground-breaking or a waste of time. There is also something that can help maximize the effectiveness of executive presence. That thing is mindfulness. An executive is a brand. It requires hard-won accomplishments and presence built through the accumulation of observed “rightnesses” to create this brand.
Mindfulness is in part defined as the practice of sustaining focused attention. It is accepting reality as is, which can be surprisingly powerful. The ability to foster mindfulness in yourself has the ability to in turn foster the best from your employees.
Working on your executive presence means you have to sit with yourself for a moment and truly examine the ways in which you are and aren’t currently being effective. For example, when someone is speaking do you truly listen to what they are saying or simply wait until you can interject with your own idea? Are you too attached to having the best idea in the room? Is this getting in the way of implementing the correct business strategies?
Mindfulness includes the ability to listen well and nurture open-mindedness. The billionaire Ray Dalio considers open-mindedness as one of the keys to his success. He associates close-mindedness with things such as speaking instead of listening and having difficulty listening to ideas one disagrees with. He notes that successful people continue to listen even when their ideas are challenged. He suggests that the ability to do this fosters better decision making.
The ability to listen well, also known as active listening, is pivotal to employee success. This is because listening well to your employees provokes trust and respect from them. It also provides them with the confidence generated by validation.
And it’s not merely magnanimous. It also affords employers invaluable information about how to truly improve the workplace. In a recent report, a third of employees claimed employers ignored their ideas and 80% claimed that though they had ideas on bettering their workplace, employers failed to enact them.
So what’s the result of all of this wasted data? One might assume it translates to stagnated growth and failed opportunities. Honestly, aren’t employees some of the best determinants of whether or not a workplace is functioning optimally?
Many of us envision a long career navigating complex relationships and relaying nuanced ideas. For all of us, this makes cultivating mindfulness and executive presence even more critical.
Crosby, P. (2018, October). How Your Listening Skills Can Make Your Employees Better Problem Solvers.
Niemiec, R. (2017, November). 3 Definitions of Mindfulness That Might Surprise You.
The University of Texas at Austin Human Resources. (n.d). Problem Solving Information and Tips.
Valentine, G. (2018, July). Executive Presence: What Is It, Why You Need It And How To Get It
Whiting, B. (n.d). What Is Executive Presence? – Definition & Examples
Yuen, D. (2018, August). The Key To Success: Open-Mindedness?