Picture any recent meeting, conference or even social event you attended. There was likely one or a few people who simply commanded the attention and engagement of everyone around them with an “it” factor that was hard to explain. This factor shows that these people are in charge, and they have sound judgement to do the right thing. Something interesting is going to happen when these people walk in the room.
In business, this phenomenon is called executive presence, and it is a quality that most great leaders possess. After all, why wouldn’t people want to follow a leader who is already tapped into environment and can navigate it with ease?
Some leaders—and people in general—were born with a personality that lets them easily establish executive presence, but the rest put a lot of effort into developing it. Executive presence, often, takes work and time to achieve.
First, the process starts with a foundation of experience and a proven track record. Consistency is key. Along the way, you must build trust with your followers and self-manage your emotions to maintain relationships and productivity levels. Finally, practice good and authentic decision making. Executive presence is developed through the process of establishing and then building a career. It is a valuable skill to invest in.
How, then, can one cultivate executive presence? There is a lot of work to do on your own, but there is incredible value in guidance from executive presence training. Here are three facts that prove it works.
Executive presence counts for 26% of what it takes to get promoted.
Skills and performance are huge indicators of promotional opportunities, new research is finding that employees need to have as many “soft skills” as skills that are featured on their resumes. General likeability helps candidates get chosen for lower level positions, but it is executive presence that makes them seen as leaders. The Center for Talent Innovation breaks down executive presence into three pillars: gravitas, communication and appearance with varying levels of importance of each that also depend on the work environment.
67% of senior executives say gravitas is the core characteristic that predicts leadership abilities
Gravitas is the sum of six behaviors, according to the Center for Talent Innovation. Those with gravitas exude confidence, act decisively, show integrity, demonstrate emotional intelligence, burnish their reputations and project vision. These are the actions of people who act the part of a leader, and the breakdown means you can practice them one at a time. With mindfulness, each is trainable.
Communication telegraphs your leadership skills, per 28% of respondents
Communication is the other highly important pillar of executive presence. Senior executives look for the ability to command and read a room so you can respond appropriately. Effective speakers are the most likely to command a room, but gauging an audience comes back to emotional intelligence. Your team will not follow you if they are not connecting with what you say, no matter how well it is communicated. Both speaking and reading are important, though speaking is rated as more so. Fortunately, executive presence training includes public speaking coaching.