Thursday, 9 November 2017

Isn’t Executive Presence ‘Old Hat’?

I have had a fascinating conversation with a client this month who shared with me the following question from one of her leaders: ‘isn’t executive presence ‘old hat’?

When I explored the comment in more detail, what became apparent was one simple truth: knowing isn’t the same as doing. We may know that executive presence is about commanding attention rather than demanding it; that it means conveying confidence, clarity, brevity, brilliance, precision impact and influence through all our forms of communication. We may know that Executive Presence means oozing that ‘I’ll follow you anywhere’ aura, whether it’s the person on reception or the CEO. We may know that it’s about having alignment in our visual, verbal, non-verbal, emotional and digital communication across a broad range of stakeholders both inside and outside of our business. We may know that Executive Presence means being able to engage people with whom we work remotely, often purely digitally, over whom we have absolutely no ‘positional authority’ as we try to get more of their time and support against competing challenges. We may know that it’s about flexing our style to deal with different cultures, different communication styles and different generations. Yes, we might know that Executive Presence is pivotal to all these things.

It doesn’t mean that we can actually do it.

I think Executive Presence means being an exquisite influencer and being influential in business today has simply never been harder. We’ve never listened less (cue the multiple devices with which you are probably engaged right now); we’ve never been so time poor (so get to the point fast or just get out of my way) and we’ve never had to adapt to so much change, uncertainty and complexity at work.

Of course Executive Presence isn’t ‘old hat’. 

Our challenge as leaders is about identifying what, where, with whom and how do we develop our ‘Executive Presence’ to be much more influential than we are now. 

And that challenge is true for all of us by the way.

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