Recently the word went out on my network seeking an HR leader with “executive presence”. What does that even mean?
I know lots of HR people at all levels. As I ran through my list only a few jumped out as having “executive presence”, even among people with VP in their title. It got me thinking. What behavior distinguishes someone as having executive presence? I decided to do a little research.
Executive presence is “part charisma, part gravitas with a dash of ineffable” according to a Fortune book review of Executive Presence: The Missing Link between Merit and Success by Sylvia Ann Hewlett in “Can Executive Presence be learned”. Executive presence can be that elusive element that determines whether your career takes off or whether you experience one stalled promotion after another. Think Steve Jobs, Larry Ellison, Don Draper, Angelina Jolie.
According to the author, someone with executive presence commands attention. This is the person you notice first when you walk into a room. Not necessarily the most attractive or smartest person, the person with executive presence has a unique combination of attributes that is compelling.
Take this little quiz summarizing “7 Traits of executive presence, the key to winning people over” by Jun Medalla in Business insider. Be honest now. Would people describe you as:
- Excellent composure
- Make a great connection with people
- Clear communicator
If you can honestly check off at all seven of these characteristics then you probably have an executive presence to be reckoned with.
But what if you don’t recognize these characteristics in yourself? Are you destined for the corner? Never fear, these characteristics can be learned! Here are some tips to cultivate executive presence from Bruna Martinuzzi:
- Hone your conversation skills. You want to put people at ease by including everyone in the conversation. This makes you interesting.
- Cultivate character and authenticity with “a strong inner core of values and beliefs and a strong sense of clarity about who you are and what you stand for.” This makes you compelling.
- Show warmth so you are approachable and engaging to everyone you meet. Smile and really mean it. This makes you pleasant to be around.
- Be present so you can focus on other people. This makes you generous.
- Develop executive maturity so you handle every situation with grace. This demonstrates poise under fire.
- Deliver messages with clarity, confidence and pose. This makes you a good presenter and a great communicator.
- Seek feedback. Get a coach or a trusted advisor to give you feedback as you manage the perceptions others have of you. This makes you smart.
You are not born with executive presence. You cultivate it over a lifetime with feedback and attention, just as you cultivate an honest, stimulating, refreshing character.
Start today so I can recommend YOU the next time a recruiter calls for a referral!