How does she do it? She walks into the room, and all eyes and ears are on her. Waiting, listening, watching. She is the one everyone recognizes as the leader when a team is formed. She’s the first one picked by clients or customers to speak with about their multi-million dollar account. They look to her for guidance and courage.
What does that woman have that you don’t? What’s her secret? Executive Presence.
The corporate culture has advanced a great deal in the past several years, but we are still guided by our primal instincts. Having a powerful, commanding presence is the “big stick” of the modern day woman in the executive suite.
Nothing can replace presence. The environment is simply a reflection of the energy we place out there – an energy that comes from within.
Why does this carry so much weight? Well, we don’t walk around announcing our talents and skills to the world. Since people don’t “know” you, they are responding to and drawn to the physical energy you project. This is how people form an opinion of you in less than 3 seconds. This is your “visual resume.”
We are constantly scrutinized. It’s your executive presence that dictates how others will deal with you: the job interviewer, co-workers, bosses, boards of directors, and most importantly, your clients.
Being confident isn’t a guarantee of presence; rather, it’s how you express your confidence that makes an impression. It’s your ability to project a sense of ease, poise, or self-assurance.
Executive Presence is all wrapped up in how you look, how you engage, how you carry yourself and what energy you send.
The first area is your professional image. You first need to know what image you want to project. This image can change with the situation.
If you are trying to convince the CEO of your newest idea, you want to portray an image of intelligence, competence and confidence. You will want to exercise respect.
This is different from the image you want to portray of being the team leader. As the team leader, you’ll need to be listening, encouraging, caring and thoughtful. You want to be seen as the go-to person.
The key is to choose and know which image fits the circumstance you’re in.
The second area is your posture. Do you lean back in your chair during meetings? Are you shaking your leg under the table? Do you fidget in your chair? Keeping a tall, erect posture portrays a sign of self-confidence, which allows others to be confident in you. Information received from someone slouching, being restless or less than engaged is often distrusted.
When you present a posture of confidence, which is shoulders back, back straight and feet shoulder width apart in a grounded stance, people will trust you, subconsciously admire you and begin to agree with whatever you have to say. The energy you are sending is positive.
The third area is your eye contact. There is truth in the saying, “The eyes are the windows to the soul.” When you speak to clients or other executives, they search your face for your real intentions. The eyes are the fixture where they place emphasis. When you look into their eyes, you are giving them a sense of absolute certainty as to what you are saying.
Making solid, fearless eye contact draws people in to you, helping them to trust you and see you as an authority of whatever topic you are discussing. A strong powerful stare can help you stay in control of the situation more than any pointed statement you could make.
When you make direct eye contact, the message you are sending is that you are listening, interested, showing respect and concern that people will appreciate.
You can’t fake having a commanding Executive Presence; however, you can move towards having it.