As we go through our morning rituals, we look in the mirror and work our magic, making sure we’re well scrubbed and ready for what lies ahead. It’s a routine thing, something we don’t think much of. We then check in on ourselves throughout the day, making sure nothing has gone awry.
You would think with all of the solo “face time” we have, seeing ourselves would always feel ordinary and we’d always recognize the face looking back at us.
But when you see yourself on film or hear yourself on tape, speaking to colleagues or preparing a client pitch, it can feel “weird,” like you’re watching somebody else.
There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to being a successful executive, but having a firm grasp of your presence is a non-negotiable. No matter how skilled, the high performer who lacks self-awareness, who does not understand how they sound “on tape,” will never get to the next level.
The value of an aura
Richard Branson, Oprah, Jeff Bezos…three CEOs at the absolute top of their game. Though they are in different industries with different personal styles, all have a well-cultivated air of mystique about them.
Mystique doesn’t mean inaccessibility or eccentricity (though a little oddballness sometimes helps!). Think of it as the other side of the charisma coin. It’s that certain something that makes people want to be around you, want to know your thoughts, want your feedback, and most of all, want your leadership.
In coaching my executive clients, I stress how important it is to prominently feature yourself, to celebrate your unique characteristics and fold them into your professional persona. Mystique can flow naturally from this process.
The value of your network
Interesting, talented people attract others, and the smart executive knows building up a network of colleagues inside and outside her organization and industry is a valuable resource for so many reasons.
A collection of cool colleagues beckons others who want to be part of the orbit. It instills in junior colleagues that this is somebody worth paying attention to. It lays the groundwork for respect among new recruits.
Networking doesn’t come easy for many of my executive clients, especially those who are natural “introverts.” We work together to reframe the challenge, to turn it from an “ugh” into something actually rewarding and desirable.
The value of your feedback
Establish a strong enough presence and your feedback will be sought out, even when the project isn’t under your direct purview.
“What does Stephanie think?” “I’m really curious to hear John’s opinion.”
You want to be the person who people seek out for feedback, not because they have to, but because they trust your instincts, your judgement, and your talent.
Clients who are far along in their careers, high up in their organizations, sometimes view this as a negative, the “my plate is already full” phenomena. We work together to create the space for this kind of work, which helps my clients and their organizations succeed.
The value of giving credit
You’ve created a tantalizing aura, cultivated a great network, and your opinions are sought by colleagues around the organization. There’s a lot to brag about here, right? Maybe, but smart executives keep the chest-thumping to themselves and focus instead on sharing the positive wealth.
The cornerstones are be gracious and be fast to credit others for their excellent contributions — even when they sprung largely from you! Lean away from braggadocio and lean into being humble, self-deprecating even.
Particularly for direct reports, indirect reports, and junior colleagues from around the organization, it’s truly exciting and hugely motivating when an organizational rock star notes their contributions. In doing so, it reinforces your aura, and the cycle just strengthens, given you even more presence.
Lost touch with your executive presence? Unsure if you even have one? Drop me a line today and let’s see if I can help you command a room, make people stop and listen, and give you respect.