Debunking Myths About Executive Presence Traits

Great leaders exhibit such strong executive presence traits, they sometimes seem to take on a magical air.

Hair perfectly coiffed through 12 hours of marathon meetings and crisp clothes that seem to have come off of a high-end boutique’s display window. Although it may seem a natural aura, these leaders did not get to where they are easily, and we know the secrets to how they built that magical executive presence that they seem to exude so effortlessly.

Myth #1 – Great Leaders Wake Up With Perfect Hair

Debunking Myths About Executive Presence TraitsEven the most poised executive wakes up with morning breath, eye bags, and bed head. However, they know better than to settle with just a shower and the first pair of jeans that they can grab from their closet. They take time to take care of themselves and how they look because they know that part of the respect that they generate is because of their physical presence.

Many middle managers who have risen recently from lower-level positions find themselves in the awkward company of composed and eternally cool senior executives. Coming in from jobs that required a lot of field work and rigorous hours, looking good has generally taken a back seat to performance. Professional development trainers stress the importance of physical appearance in gaining self-confidence – a very important trait of a leader. Leadership development training, in fact, often includes an entire section dedicated solely to appearance and image makeovers.

Myth #2 – All Leaders Were Born Good Speakers

Nothing can be further from the truth. The world is filled with people who would readily admit that their greatest weakness is public speaking. For 99% of us, communications skills are learned, not something that we’re lucky enough to be born with. This is why individuals and many companies invest huge amounts of time and money in various communication training, with vastly different results. Effective leaders are those who never stop learning to hone their communication skills. Thus, they are able to consistently present their ideas in a coherent, organized manner. If you plan on stepping up your game and developing those executive presence traits of your own, this is one area where you have to throw your chips on the table and go all-in. Simply put – if you can’t communicate effectively, you can’t get ahead in today’s culture.

Myth #3 – Leaders Always Know the Answer

Leaders are just like us, mystical aura notwithstanding. There are no superpowers hidden under the hood, and they get caught by surprise too. What sets them apart is their ability to maintain grace under pressure. They do not pretend to know all of the answers; instead they ask the difficult questions, persist until they get the answers they need, and own the issue.

Leaders love people, relationships, and all of the intertwinings that build the complex web of today’s relationships. They listen well to everyone and not just to verbal but, most importantly, non-verbal cues as well. This is how people with true executive presence traits stock up on information, and information is the cornerstone of today’s business world. They always make a connection because they always have their ear to the ground, and they LISTEN, not just hear. One of our president Rob Jackson’s favorite quotes is, “The quieter you become, the more you can hear“. As a renowned keynote speaker and professional trainer, Rob has spent years learning these secrets that transformed him from a good communicator into a great communicator.

Myth #4 – Executive Presence is Exclusive to Certain People

The truth is that ANYONE can exude an aura of executive presence. That is, everyone who is willing to go the extra mile to acquire the traits of a good leader. It all starts with self-assessment. Asking feedback from co-workers, clients, and supervisors is a great way to begin cultivating presence. They key is constructively accepting feedback even when some of them maybe hurtful. “What do you think can help my appearance?” “Do you feel like I give you 100% of my attention when we’re talking?” “What can help me be a better communicator?”
The next step is taking concrete actions to address this feedback, and applying what you’ve learned here. There are executive presence coaches who can guide you on your quest to become the next C-level executive. The primary factor for success is having the drive and determination to develop the highly coveted and much admired executive presence.