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Want to Establish Your Executive Presence?

Connections count, but I’m not talking about the networking kind. I’m talking about the ability to connect emotionally and intellectually with people. It’s called Executive Presence and it is essential to highly effective leadership. Leaders with Executive Presence gain the trust and confidence of others.

Executive Presence is different from your personal brand. How? A personal brand is all about “me” – it’s my style, it’s my passion, it’s my abilities. It’s me, me, me. Personal branding is important, and while there is some overlap with Executive Presence, you can establish your personal brand without input from anyone.

Executive Presence, by contrast, is about “we.” It’s about the way you interact with everyone in the room. It’s inclusive. To figure out if you have Executive Presence, ask yourself:

  • Is my opinion sought?

  • Do I communicate clearly and confidently?

  • Do I display emotional intelligence?

  • Do I handle criticism well?

  • Am I a good listener?

  • Do people feel better about themselves after interacting with me?

If you don’t answer “yes” to these questions, then it is time to get to work. Fortunately, Executive Presence can be learned. I have worked with hundreds of seasoned C-Suite executives in Fortune 500 companies, as well as young entrepreneurs, to develop their Executive Presence.

It is important to understand that Executive Presence has more to do with connection and communication than it does command and control. It is the subtle ability to connect with people, an ability often overlooked. Typically, when we think of effective leaders, we imagine the person who takes command of a room, exuding bravado. Leaders with Executive Presence often have those attributes, but without being off-putting. They can relate a personal anecdote just as easily as they can discuss a business plan. They admit their mistakes. And, they give proper credit to others for their ideas. They avoid self-promotion (which is uncomfortable for everyone and ultimately, ineffective). Rather, they have the ability to share some insights about themselves, to listen to others and follow up with pertinent questions that show they are engaged.

Everyone has a personal brand, whether it was intentionally cultivated or not. Not everyone has Executive Presence. But if you want to be an exceptional leader, Executive Presence is essential. Start by identifying areas you need to work on. Ask a trusted colleague for feedback. Practice what I preach. You’ll get there!

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