We all know someone whom we consider – consciously or unconsciously – to possess that important characteristic known as “Executive Presence. These are the people who absolutely command a room when they enter it – they are warm and welcoming and put others at ease with their positive body language, clear and concise communication skills, integrity and ability to help others get behind a compelling vision. We each probably also know someone who believes he or she has Executive Presence, but who in fact is a narcissistic know-it-all who isn’t respected by their team and has zero Executive Presence. Which would you rather be?

One needn’t innately possess that mysterious quality known as Executive Presence; in fact, few come by it naturally. But research has shown that one need only be willing to put the hard work into achieving such status. There are several key characteristics in developing an Executive Presence, and they can be learned.

In our Promotable Executive Presence ™ workshop we provide a solid foundation for learning the important leadership characteristics that make someone an Executive Presence – and a force to be reckoned with. Many high-level managers believe that having an Executive Presence simply means they’re expected to “know it all” and make sure others know they know it all. In fact, acting as if you’re infallible will more likely detract from the level of trust others have for you and be detrimental to your promotion opportunities.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at each of the five key characteristics that put someone on the road to possessing and demonstrating an Executive Presence. Those five characteristics include Communication, Connection, being Captivating, having Credibility, and being a Compelling force in your employees’ work lives.

The first – and arguably most important – component is being an excellent Communicator. This includes not only what you say but how you say it; it includes how you listen and how you provide feedback to others. It also includes having positive body language and being perceived as welcoming and approachable. Others need to experience you connecting with them on a common level and being genuinely interested in what they have to say. A useful tool for communicating with others is to ask them about themselves, their alma mater, their jobs, their frustrations and what brings them joy. Enrich the connections you already have with others by identifying and sharing common interests.

That brings us to the second crucial component, which is Connection. This is all about being engaging and warm, authentic and possessing the ability to put people at ease so they become comfortable with you. Understanding and helping others understand the variety of personality styles is part of making connections. If you understand how to interact with different personality styles, you’re a good bit of the way toward making meaningful connections with people. However - pegging people you’ve just met as having certain personality styles can stifle the connections you make because you’re busy thinking about how their personality style operates. Let’s face it - the work world is still male-dominated and men frequently connect with one another by talking sports. If you’re a female executive, you may want to keep up on the latest sports stats and stars. As an alternative, you could position yourself as not understanding sports at all – which then connects you with others who feel it’s their responsibility to educate you.

Another important part of making connections is to remember people’s names. It makes people feel appreciated and recognized and you’ll enjoy an automatic boost in being perceived as a Captivating communicator.
That brings us to the third component one must possess to demonstrate an Executive Presence – and that is the ability to be a Captivating communicator. Think about the businesspeople with whom you enjoy spending time. It’s likely the ones who are passionate about their goals and values, who radiate enthusiasm and self-confidence and have great stories to share. They have positive body language, approaching others warmly, making and keeping good eye contact and shaking hands firmly. They’re genuinely happy to be in the presence of someone who fascinates them – and everyone fascinates them.

Being a Captivating communicator also means maintaining your poised, professional composure even when stressed or frustrated. “Perception is reality”, and a master of Executive Presence understands how to manage perceptions while fiercely protecting their own Credibility and that of the company they represent.

Having Credibility with your audience means that listeners trust that you’re credible and honest, and that you’ll be open with them about setbacks or challenges that could impact them. As Mark Twain said, “If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.” Nothing destroys Credibility faster than being caught in a lie. Displaying an Executive Presence through Credibility means knowing your stuff, but also having integrity and being humble enough to acknowledge something you don’t know or a mistake you’ve made. Being human with your audience is a far bigger reinforcement of Credibility and trustworthiness than coming across as even a little deceitful. People understand and appreciate when someone is up front with them, and far more forgiving with someone who readily admits to making a mistake than they are if they feel deceived. Once destroyed, you’ll never be able to recapture that level of Credibility again. Protect it fiercely.

Finally, the fifth component of having an Executive Presence is to be Compelling. This is all about influencing others in a positive way. It means making deliberate choices with confidence and conviction, and helping others get on board enthusiastically. This doesn’t mean you want others to follow you blindly, because that’s not good for your team’s growth. Your goal is to be charismatic enough to attract followers but you also want those followers to think independently and challenge you when appropriate. Part of being Compelling and having an Executive Presence means that you graciously accept criticism from your team and others without becoming defensive.

If you and your team are ready to do the hard work needed to become more valuable to your organization and be more promotable personally, look for a Professional Development company that can put together a customized workshop to address your needs.

Author's Bio: 

Rob Jackson is President of Magnovo Training Group, a soft-skills training company focusing on corporate team building, DiSC personality styles and leadership development. Rob has been a speaker and trainer for over 20 years specializing in effective leadership, executive presence, personality discovery, relational sales training, presentation skills, and charity team building.

Rob is a member of the National Speaker's Association and has served as President and Chairman on several Executive Leadership boards. In addition to being a Certified DiSC Trainer, Rob has logged hundreds of instructional classroom hours. He is the author of Campfire Leadership, which explores effective leadership from a personality perspective. In all of his efforts Rob's goal is to inspire significant positive change in communities and companies. For more information please visit http://www.magnovo.com.