Executive presence is an unwritten competency for leaders and in today’s economy, it is a must if you want to accelerate in your career. Studies* among 4000 professionals show that executive presence constitutes 25% of what it takes to get promoted and equally important skills and qualities.
If you want to be a leader, you have to look like a leader and it goes beyond the appearance. Your presence has to combine those four elements:
- How you look
- How you act
- How you communicate
How you look – the appearance
Your appearance is a door to your success. Your outer presence simply reflects your qualities. Polished look, neat grooming and attention to details makes a positive impact and creates trust. You appear reliable, organized, tasteful. It is not the most important quality, but it is a good start.
How you act – behavior and nonverbal communication
The minute you walk through the door you make an impact. Your body speaks volume and before you get a chance to introduce yourself, your posture, movements and gestures are noticed. Handshake, tone of voice, face expressions adds to the first impression you make. The way you conduct yourself and your manners are part of the picture. If your body language supports what you are saying, you are doing really good.
How you communicate – verbal communication
Being able to express yourself clearly and in a nice manner, presenting facts and figures, but also being able to have small talk are a key to being listened to. If someone enjoys conversation with you, you are winning the game.
Your values – gravitas
Whether you are an entrepreneur, CEO or manager, people around you are looking for what constitutes you as a person and what brings the value to the group. They are looking for your ‘gravitas’. The ancient gravitas were authority, dignity, devotion, power and virtues.
Along with the skills required for the job, you need to be able to present your gravitas. In every action you take and word you say, people have to see those values. It is important that you emphasize your positive traits and characteristics. This what makes you stand out, and this is what constitutes a leader. Recognition of your gravitas builds a respect for you and people naturally starts being attracted to you.
If you want to be a leader you have to make people follow you, you have to appeal to them on many levels. The executive presence is a competency that you can learn.
*2012 Report made by Center for Talent Innovation (CTI)
Your image is a very first thing that is available to others and is immediately evaluated and judged. Even if you truly believe you care more for someone’s values, personality and character, you also judge others based on their appearance. It happens instantly and subconsciously. It is not about rational reasons, but about emotions and impressions. It just feels right or not.
Your image reflects who you are, not only your personality and lifestyle, but also your values and goals. It is a way of communication and says about you much more than you may think. Reflect for a minute on your image…
- Are you easily approachable or rather to be avoided?
- Do you appear confident or shy and timid?
- Do you look trustworthy or irresponsible?
- Do you appear competent and intelligent or inadequate and irrational?
There is no one right image. There is no good or bad image. There is an image that either supports or doesn’t your career and personal goals. Your image matters because it can help you accelerate in your professional and private life. And image is much more than the appearance. It is also about how you act and communicate. It matters because it is about You.
As an entrepreneur or a corporate executive, you are the business card of the company you represent. And before anyone does business with you, they must first like you and trust you. Now think, does your image and the first impression you make actually can attract people. Can it open them to you, to spend time with you, have a conversation? How likeable are you? How do you make people feel around you? How do you want them to feel?
Image matters because it is about trust. From the first impression you make, you must take responsibility for the way you are perceived. And you are the only person that is in control of it. If your outer presence reflects your qualities, then it is extremely important that your appearance supports the message of authenticity, honesty and reliability.
Image matters because it is one of the pillars of your personal branding. And if you feel confident about the appearance, you feel confident about your actions and you are more willing to take on challenges. Look good and feel good is a simple recipe for success. And it is not about the clothes you are wearing, but the general impression you make.
Image is about the outer presence, while the personal branding is all about the value. Your image is like a packaging for the product, it is either attractive or discouraging. And before people check what’s inside, they have to judge the product by its look. You have a choice to have a great packaging or a poor one. You decide what you communicate via your image. That’s why it matters…