How present are you? The art of Executive Presence June 25, 2023 by Belinda EganHow often would you say you’re actively present and reflecting your status as an executive at work? Ideally you’d want to say, “All the time.” But are you really? It’s more likely, if you’re like most, that you’re easily “lost in the sauce” in your daily life. When your days are filled with a giant list of tasks to be accomplished, emails to be responded to, and negative thoughts and worries to battle with, it can be hard to be “present and accounted for” as a leader. If you’re honest, by early afternoon you’re probably thinking about things that need to get done at home or stressing about how you didn’t really slay that meeting earlier. You’ve tapped out mentally, and it shows. Your body posture gets weaker, you’re not as engaged, and you start missing important pieces of contextual feedback from peers and team members. You’re not abnormal – most people, in order to cope with the daily noise of work, remove themselves mentally as the day wears on. But if this is the case, you’re not doing any favors for your team or your reputation. Executive Presence is a set of intentional behaviors and beliefs that reflect how you show up in the workplace. When your Executive Presence is strong: Your colleagues, team members, and peers respect and admire you You experience a flow state that assists with problem-solving and boosts your communication skills You are able to make changes in your organization and in your career life more easily and effectively You enjoy healthy, mutually beneficial relationships at work You feel more powerful, in control, and at peace in your role Today I’m sharing three facets of Executive Presence that you can start developing right away to become a more Courageous Leader: Purposeful, Personal, and Persuasive Presence. When you’ve got these three locked in, you really step into your power as a leader and you’ll notice a lot of upward mobility in your career and in your relationships. Purposeful When you know where you’re going, you’ll get there much faster. A leader with a strong executive presence acts with intention every day, not just when there’s a goal to complete or a fire to put out. It’s easy to act intentionally when you have a clear picture of what matters. Here are some questions you can ask yourself to start reflecting a Purposeful Presence: What are my 3 main focuses at work? Order them in terms of highest to lowest daily priority, and write an example of how you put each of them at the forefront of your actions. Do I feel like I reflect a presence of purpose at work? If yes, how can I improve it? If not, what needs to change so that I start acting with purpose? Personal You are unique in a myriad of ways. The way you lead your team should be, too. A leader with a strong personal sense of Executive Presence is authentic, genuine, powerful, and trusts themselves to make the right call every time. This means, of course, that this leader has done a lot of work to really know themselves. People sense this, and it makes them feel calm and at ease. So how do you really get to know yourself? You have to spend time in solitude and reflection. If solitude is hard to come by in your life, you might have to get creative about ways to carve it out: If you share a public calendar with your team, block out an hour a day for “strategy” or, if you’re feeling bold, “meditation”. Ensure your team and colleagues understand that during this time you won’t be available to take meetings or calls, answer emails, or have sit-downs. Go to bed an hour earlier, and wake an hour earlier – early morning can be the best time for reflection! It’s quiet, and your body will (hopefully) feel rested and at peace. Sit down with a journal and reflect on your goals, your mood, and your growth. Write about it. Make a plan for the days ahead. Dig into yourself and find out what’s there. Persuasive When a leader with a strong Executive Presence speaks, people really listen. You reserve your opinion for when it matters. You don’t talk too often or too loudly. You know when it’s the right time to share your thoughts, and when to hold them in. And when you do speak up, people usually chime in with agreement or a “Yes, and…”. This is the power of persuasion. Having a Persuasive Presence isn’t just given to you at birth. It’s developed over time by overcoming adversity, taking responsibility for your actions and circumstances, and fostering a deep sense of self-respect and compassion for everyone – yourself, most of all. Here are some ways you can start to foster a Persuasive Presence: Spend less time talking and more time listening and observing. Every day, the people around us are telling us what matters to them, through their actions, body language, and words. Find out what matters to your team members and peers by listening and watching. This information will help you figure out the best way to turn each person’s ear when the time comes to share what you know. Slow down. Be present. Practice breathing into each moment throughout the day. A calm leader with a steady hand makes everyone feel like things will be okay. Remind yourself as often as needed: everything will happen as it will, with or without you. You can trust yourself to make the right decision when the time comes. You can become the leader you needed but never had. You can become someone that takes up space, shares wisdom, and creates lasting change in the world. If you feel called to leadership, you can be brave enough to answer the call and lean into the beautiful, fulfilling journey ahead of you. Start here (for free!): Unlocking The Power of Courageous Leadership.