“Leadership is about making others better as a result of your presence and making sure that impact lasts in your absence.” – Sheryl Sandberg
Leaders who develop their executive presence are more successful at cultivating strong, trust-based relationships with their team and peers. They inspire motivated, engaged and empowered teams that thrive on productivity and results. They possess higher levels of emotional intelligence and remain composed under pressure.
Here are 5 tips for developing your presence to increase your leadership impact:
1. Build your confidence
Executive presence is all about confidence. Sylvia Ann Hewlett, founder and CEO of the Center for Talent Innovation and author of ‘Executive Presence’, defines executive presence as ‘how one acts (gravitas), speaks (communication) and looks (appearance). To be effective as a leader you must demonstrate an unwavering sense of confidence in your ability to engage, to communicate, to lead and to make a difference. Confident leaders use their body language and tone of voice to influence and generate the outcomes they desire.
Everything from the way leaders carry themselves, the way they stand, the way they speak, what they wear and their appearance all affect how their confidence is conveyed.
2. Create and share a compelling vision
According to Gerry Valentine in Forbes ‘One of the most important parts of inspiring confidence is having a compelling vision.’ A vision is an overview of the bigger picture showing where the organisation is heading and how the leader plans to get it there. Both the development and articulation of a compelling vision is what defines a great leader. This is what motivates people to work together in unison, it’s what makes them want to come to work. For people to work well in collaboration they need to understand the direction they are going and the goals they are working towards. They need to understand why these goals matter and how they will be accomplished.
If your vision is powerful, you’ll see people rally behind you voluntarily because they believe in what you’re trying to achieve.
3. Be decisive
Decisiveness is a key ingredient of leadership presence and a quality that helps leaders earn the confidence of their team. People must feel that they can depend on you to make tough decisions when needed. Successful leaders always take a stand and don’t rely on others to make the decision for them.
Indecisiveness will cast doubt on people’s minds and make them question your ability to make the tough calls. Instead of earning their respect, you might end up losing them.
4. Build relationships
Effective leaders actively engage with the people around them and take the time to build rapport and meaningful relationships. Great leaders communicate with others, they provide honest feedback and are open to receiving feedback that will help them develop and grow. They are adept at identifying and leveraging the unique talents and abilities of each individual and ensure that they are helping others to unleash their full potential.
Great leaders pay attention to workplace etiquette and do not engage in office politics and gossip. They genuinely listen to what others have to say and provide positive feedback and frequent praise.
5. Take initiative
As a leader you are a role model and you need to exhibit behaviour that you would want to see in others. Great leaders are not afraid to take the lead and to seek out new opportunities. They don’t wait for someone else to intervene before they move things forward. They don’t need to be asked to act on something.
If you are keen to advance to the senior leadership ranks and to have a positive influence on others, work hard to develop your executive presence. It is a critical asset for leaders who are looking to take their careers to the next level. Success in leadership is not about having authority through your job title, it’s about the degree to which others perceive you as competent, capable, trustworthy and inspiring.
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