Some people are natural leaders who command attention when walking into a room. They lead client meetings smoothly, chart action items to achieve short- and long-term goals, and strengthen company culture through their positive attitude.
But they may not be naturals at all. Many to-be influential leaders have to work on their hard and soft skills to build this presence.
And there’s good news for aspiring leaders –– executive presence coaching solidifies you as a more attractive job candidate and charismatic professional.
Here’s all you need to know about executive presence, including tips on teaching yourself or others to become an executive leader.
But first, what is executive presence?
Executive presence is an air of professionalism and capability.
Leaders with executive presence inspire and motivate others. And people trust these leaders thanks to the following executive presence traits:
- Authenticity: Good leaders build trust through honesty. You want others to feel confident in your intuitions and recommendations. And when they believe you’re trustworthy, they’re more likely to seek guidance.
- Expressiveness: Strong leaders speak clearly and convincingly without losing their authenticity. Those with executive presence get right to the point, and this helps listeners quickly parse information and reduces potential misunderstandings.
- Magnetism/charisma: Charisma is an excellent leader’s je ne sais quoi. For some, this magnetism is innate, but others can learn it by remaining enthusiastic and optimistic, showing peers they care.
- Authority: Leaders with executive presence gain authority by making bold decisions without second-guessing themselves. They exude confidence as decision-makers, setting an example for others, who, in turn, more readily take action.
- Self-awareness: People with executive presence are self-aware. They can read a room, assess a problem calmly, and work toward resolutions instead of panicking or dwelling.
How to develop executive presence
Executive presence is a soft skill we all can develop. And working on new skills –– whether hard or soft –– takes knowledge, commitment, and practice. While hard skills –– such as computer proficiency, project management, and creative writing –– are relatively easy to learn and polish, soft skills can sometimes be challenging, as they require personal transformation.
And no one can miraculously wake up a better leader tomorrow. But you can definitely start taking steps toward learning. Here’s a guide to DIY executive presence training:
- Plan first, talk second: Because leaders with executive presence must speak clearly, they also need to have a crystalline vision of what they’ll say and do. Establish an idea of the way forward before communicating it to others. For example, if you’re about to lead a sales team to improve results, determine a definite sales figure, skills the team needs to work on, and the tools to measure success.
- Practice communication skills: Take stock of your current communication skills by recording yourself and asking peers for feedback. Then, make a plan to improve. Enroll in a class on public speaking, or reread your speeches and presentations with a keen eye for filler words (such as alright and you know) and unclear language you can cut.
- Develop confidence: Although building confidence may sound easier said than done, coaching can help you define limiting beliefs and push past them. Sometimes, it’s just a matter of determining an opportunity area (like those public speaking skills) and studying to improve the ability. You may feel more confident when you start acing small tasks like creating presentations. This also helps you take on significant responsibilities, such as delivering those presentations to high-stake clients. And yes, it’s normal for leaders and aspiring coaches to receive coaching from someone else should they need a helping hand.
- Listen actively: Leaders must always listen to colleagues and teams because entry-level employees sometimes have valuable insights. Executives who listen with intention, without imposing their own narrative on what others are saying, not only inspire trust and confidence but also get to the root of an issue more quickly. Take the following example as proof. A manager may improve recruiting and onboarding workflow by listening to HR employees’ need for an agile customer relationship management (CRM) tool. This isn’t something the leader would have known if they hadn’t listened to employees’ concerns.
- Be honest about your weaknesses: We all have flaws, and acknowledging them is an opportunity to understand ourselves and grow. Introspect, receive feedback gracefully, and above all, don’t take any observations too personally. If you’re not a naturally great listener, learn to stay present in conversations and use body language to let others know you’re listening and feel comfortable around you. Or, if you think you lack writing skills, take a class.
Improve your executive presence with these tips
Leaders are essential across workspaces –– 79% of employees say they’d quit a job if their managers didn’t acknowledge and appreciate their work.
So if you’ve already honed excellent communication and listening skills, the ability to think strategically, and a confident demeanor, you’re ready to set an example for others. But this doesn’t mean you have nothing left to learn. Here’s how to continue developing executive skills and reach the height of your potential:
- Focus on emotional intelligence: Emotional intelligence means you can control your emotions and possess the capabilities to assess and influence others’ sentiments. Stay in touch with how you and others feel to make more informed, empathetic, and measured decisions. Track your emotions and behaviors, question them, and take accountability when you make a mistake or achieve something great. Over time, you’ll become much more self-aware.
- Master hard skills: Read about the latest in your industry, and take certification courses and workshops whenever possible to learn new leadership skills and niche knowledge. This helps build confidence.
- Become a better writer: Finesse in writing improves your communication skills. Strong professional writing is definitive and direct but approachable. Practice switching out the passive voice (i.e., it was said by the engineer) for the active voice (i.e., the engineer said it), getting rid of washy adverbs like “probably,” and cutting empty terminology like “spearheading.” Always assert empathy by being socially aware, like recognizing your peers’ correct pronouns, and straying from aggressive language.
Interested in executive coaching? Learn more with Practice
Executive coaches focus on helping high-performing professionals, such as managers, become better leaders. Anyone trying to perfect their executive presence can benefit from working with one of these professionals.
And if you want more information about executive coaching and coaches, head to The Practice Blog and learn about a wealth of coaches –– such as organizational, business, and leadership coaches –– how they help clients get closer to goals. Also, find out how to become a coach or find a niche.
Once you become a coach and build a strong client base, leverage our Client Management Software, designed with coaches in mind, which allows you to send files and contracts, maintain client data, and receive payments securely –– all in one place. Try Practice today.