I was beginning a new leadership role with a multinational company in Asia when a wise friend pointed out, "All eyes will be on your every move and how you lead will determine the stories employees will develop by observing you." I listened, but didn't act, resulting in a lesson in the impact of a leader’s presence. Leadership can be lonely if you don't engage with a truly authentic approach and consider how you are "showing up" to others.
As careers flourish, new roles present opportunity for learning and growth. Both individual contributors and leaders, experience a smoother career journey when they realize the impact of their presence. You may think, "Getting the work delivered is priority", “Why would my presence impact performance of others?" or "I'm only an individual contributor, others don't look toward me to act like a leader". If this you, it's time to challenge your thinking!
First and foremost, recognize you are leading and require leadership skills, whether in a professional or personal capacity. Awareness of how others perceive your leadership can greatly shape performance, collaborative spirit and ability to innovate.
Here are 4 skills that can make or break your executive presence.
- Authenticity. Are you a courageous leader who isn’t afraid of being wrong and able to change your mind based on others’ input? If you practice this ability with a high level of integrity, others around you will be more likely to follow. With this comes humility and allows you the ability to embrace learning and grow from others while leading. You have gifts within your team, so recognize this openly. Your openness to embrace a new direction influenced by your team and the ability to bring your true self into your leadership role can create an organization built on trust.
- Enterprise Mindset. Are you in the weeds, checking the boxes or a purposeful visionary who clearly communicates where your team is going and how you will get there together? Modeling an enterprise mindset requires leaders to "walk the talk" and organizations to break down barriers. What is good for the function doesn't always consider the impact to the entire organization. Awareness of how the pieces of the organizational puzzle fit together is key when striving for the best corporate performance outcomes.
- Interpersonal Ability. Do you recognize your triggers and effectively manage your reactive tendencies with a sense of composure others respect? We all have reactions specific to our assumptions about the world around us. Intently listening to others, while understanding your physical and emotional triggers can help stifle reactive behaviors. The ability to behave in a rational, composed manner even under pressure, greatly impacts our leadership persona.
- Decision Making. How much is enough information to make a decision? If you are waiting to have 100% of the data to validate a decision or for a consensus, you may not deliver many results. Teams and organizations look toward leaders to make decisions and a wrong decision is better than the tension and stagnation that can occur from no decision at all.
Cultivating your executive presence as you progress your career into increasingly more complex leadership roles is an important skill to hone. Begin with awareness of who you are and how you are showing up even when you don't think anyone is noticing. Executive presence isn't a one-off skill to master, it's a way of being present, vulnerable and open in leadership.
JAR Leadership Coaching is a results-oriented organization working with executives and teams to improve effectiveness in the workplace. We specialize in executive coaching, individual and team assessment and customized development for the sake of positively impacting results. For more information, reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.jarleadershipcoaching.com