Who needs executive presence?

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Often we don’t realise it at the time but the ways we are presenting ourselves and interacting with others at work will have implications for us later in our career. In the early stage of our career, it is therefore important to develop self-awareness of how we are communicating and creating impressions on those around us. Our impact on others is going to become influential, to our advantage or to our disadvantage.

One common way this plays out in organisations is who gets the promotion to a prized senior role. You may be one of five internal candidates, all of whom are talented, capable, qualified and experienced. All five of you could do the job but obviously only one of you will be appointed. Thus it is a competitive race.  Will the winning candidate be the one who the decision-makers know, like and trust? Will it be the candidate who has consistently flown her/his colours in various ways such as their contributions in meetings, the relationships they have forged and the leadership communication skills they have displayed?

Executive presence is not a quick-fix success strategy. Ideally we are building and adapting our executive presence throughout the length and breadth of our career. When it is most critical, however, is in the middle years when someone is in a team leader, project manager or senior professional role. These are the years when you have reached a number of milestones such as managing a team of people, managing multi-million dollar projects or leading a major change initiative. You are very busy doing and achieving for your team and organisation. These are also the years when decisions will be made by others about your future in the organisation.

Every middle manager and senior professional in a corporate or government role aspiring to reach their full potential needs to develop a different set of skills and insights to the technical skills and experience that got them to where they are now. They need executive presence.

If you are passed over for a top job in these middle years, stop and honestly ask yourself ‘Why did this happen?’ You should also ask the same question of people you trust such as a close mentor. The answers you get will determine whether you decide to stay with your present employer, or whether you start looking for a new one where you can parachute into a more senior role. In your new organisation, you can start over with a clean executive presence slate. But if you haven’t gained self-insights in this process, the danger is that you will repeat the same old behaviours and get the same old results.

In summary, the middle manager, team leader or senior professional has the most to gain when their executive presence is strong or to lose when their executive presence is weak. Those in the middle will be most affected – positively or negatively – by how they are showing up and performing in the various forums of organisational life. As well, and on a positive note, they still have time and opportunity to start new behaviours, to adapt current ones or to discard the behaviours that are not working.

What is your own experience of developing executive presence?  Have you found it easy or difficult?  Was there a particular point in your career when you began to feel more comfortable and confident interacting at senior levels?  



Would you like to learn how to enhance your executive presence? People Results’ Executive Presence Half-Day workshop is held in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Perth on a regular basis. Our next workshops are in Sydney on 16th July 2014 and Melbourne on 29th July 2014 and are exclusive for women.

Please contact People Results on 1300 167 981 or via email for more information and workshop dates in other States.