You know all of the buzzwords: commanding…masterful…authoritative…self-assured. Executive presence is a charismatic vortex that draws others into its sphere of influence and control. You know it when you see it and you admire it: “Yep, he’s a take-charge kinda guy.” “I don’t know, she’s just got this air of leadership.” “No matter what happens, she’s always in control.” “He’s our go-to guy, the one we all count on to make the tough decisions.”
Indeed, you know it when you see it, you might even have similar aspirations, but will you know it when you become it?
The Journey From Here to There
In your own mind’s eye, what does your executive presence look like? Outwardly, the cues to your transformation will be easy to spot. Your public speaking skills will be formidable. You’ll be assertive but fair. Your personal radar will be so well-calibrated that you’ll be able to read a room and flex your message to fit your audience voila on the spot. Your handshake will be firm. Your eye contact will be steady. You’ll exude a self-assurance that will inspire the confidence, support, and loyalty of your colleagues. Sounds glorious doesn’t it? But the question is can you get “there” from “here” and how will you know when you’ve arrived?
Mirror Mirror On the Corporate Wall
Aside from obvious incentives like money and material gain, why do you want to develop an executive presence? Wouldn’t it be wonderful if your quest for the holy grail of managerial excellence was also about your quest to become your best self – professional or otherwise? I mean, some of the most narcissistic tyrants on the planet had – and currently have – executive presence, so perhaps that is not an end-all/be-all achievement to which you should aspire.
Consider translating your goals for a professional make-over into personal ones. Seeking the guidance of life coaches and other personal advisors may set you on the path to both personal and professional fulfillment. Learn who you are – your strengths and weaknesses. Celebrate your strengths without despising your weaknesses. Never mind the expectations of the powers-that-be on your job. You know deep down that you are your worst critic. Cut yourself some slack! And at the peak of that learning curve, grade yourself on the curve; or better yet, pass/fail!
These acts of self-care can become valuable assets in professional grooming. The more humane you are with yourself, the more accepting you’ll be of your followers – and that’s the mark of a real leader. When your personal essence exudes peace, stability, graciousness, and self-acceptance, then your executive presence will be authentic.