What the pros know about executive presence
Friday, January 24, 2014
Posted by: Barbara Francella
By Jackie Sloane
presence is the magnetic force that compels others to listen and act. The lack
of it can hold you back professionally. But what is it, exactly?
Gloeckler tackled the topic several years ago at the Network of Executive Women’s
NEW Leadership Summit. She had the audience laughing as she shared stories of
what she’d learned about business from her mother, a veteran sales rep. She
then surprised everyone by inviting her mom onto the stage to make a few
remarks. Her mother proceeded to demonstrate where Michelle got her sense of
humor (and executive presence).
senior vice president and general merchandise manager, home
for Walmart Stores U.S., and the Network’s immediate past board chair, doesn’t
use formality to communicate authority. Authentic and playful, she uses her
vulnerability to build a powerful experience of community. Celebrating her mother
in front of a group founded to nurture women leaders was touching -- and
powerful. (More than one attendee called Gloeckler’s presentation the highlight
of the NEW Summit.)
presence -- how you communicate, hold yourself, connect with and treat people --
establishes credibility and engages others.
Wadden, an international business expansion expert, says executive presence inspires
trust and generates excitement about you, your mission and what you can do for
the other person. People hear the opportunity you offer and want to be part of
it. He uses executive presence to establish powerful relationships and
cultivate enthusiasm, which results in meetings and deals.
To cultivate a more powerful presence, consider the
makes it easier for people to relax around you, trust you and be candid
themselves. Aloofness and pretense are distancing.
- Grace, in how
you hold yourself, speak, move, interact and respond under pressure, sets a
tone that is calming and impressive. It communicates intelligence and power.
Harshness and volatility suggests imbalance or lack of self-control.
and inspiring others means knowing your audience and making an emotional
connection. When you speak, you
reveal your thought process, self-awareness and how well you understand and
respect your audience. When others experience that you understand what matters
to them, they are drawn to you. Taking the time to prepare for important
conversations; how you engage in key moments can have profound impact on
what you accomplish.
listening, including the questions you ask, is often what people
Those who reach out, make a good point, hold their ground and make
requests and offers, stand out. When
Gloeckler joined Walmart Stores, she expanded her executive presence by
volunteering for high-risk assignments, like live television and board
presentations, that supported her business goals and credibility. She was
promoted not long after she joined the firm.
- Clarity in your
speaking and listening communicates seriousness and respect. Saves time, too.
speaking skills are vital if your role requires speaking to groups.
personal presentation is a basic. Good grooming says you respect yourself
Which of these are areas where you can improve?
Remember, mastery of executive presence is not something that is ever
complete. Like most things, it involves continuous learning.
has been coaching and consulting executives for 20 years. She has collaborated
with leaders to expand influence and executive presence, sell initiatives,
build more effective teams, develop global strategy, advance culture change and
achieve other significant goals at privately held, public sector and Fortune
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the opinions of the Network of Executive Women or its Officers, Board members