You may have the necessary education and expertise to become an executive, but do you have executive presence? The way we present ourselves goes way beyond wearing a power tie or a navy blue skirt and blazer. Having or developing certain interpersonal skills and presence are necessary if you wish to become a leader.
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We all know somebody who is knowledgable in her field, but uses the phrase, “I’m sorry” to mean “excuse me” or even, “I’d like to speak now.” Apologizing before you speak shows that you lack confidence, and is a great way to guarantee you will never be put in leadership position. Executives require executive presence. The following three qualities lend themselves to executive presence.
1. Body Language
More than half of communication is nonverbal. Statistics from studies on human behavior vary, but suffice it to say anywhere from 60 to 93 percent of in-person communication is nonverbal. Nonverbal communication includes (among other things) posture, facial expressions, gestures, and tone of voice.
People with executive presence stand up strait and walk with confidence, purpose, and direction. They don’t fidget with their hands, play with their hair, or constantly switch weight from foot to foot. People with executive presense walk into a room and expect to be treated like an honored guest. They welcome others in the room with introductions. Executives are not wall flowers.
People with executive presence speak in even tones; they don’t raise the end of every sentence as if it were a question.
To be a good leader, you must be able to listen. This is as important as being able to communicate your own opinions with confidence. Part of executive presence is having the skill to connect to people on a personal level before launching into a professional agenda.
Another skill lending itself to executive presence is the ability to listen to the ideas of others especially if they are different than your own, and to share credit with others so deserving.
Professional communications should be efficient, and this efficiency is part of executive presence. Don’t ramble. Be concise and get to the point. Be clear. Using disclaimers such as, “I’m no expert, but” or saying “I’m sorry” when you are not at fault undermines your authority and detracts from executive presence.
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