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News & Blogs: Rising Above the Middle

3 ways to jumpstart your executive presence

Tuesday, June 10, 2014  
Posted by: Barbara Francella
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By Leanna Cruz


Successful women understand the importance of perceptions and how they affect the recognition and rewards they receive. And they know how to influence the way others perceive them.


Leaders project competence and confidence and manage their professional reputation. They realize executive presence not only determines their ability to lead and manage effectively, but also their likelihood of being noticed, being heard and considered for career advancement.


Related: "Ambitious? Let your boss know you want that promotion”


Your presence stirs an emotional response in others. It is the energy you bring when you enter a room and determines how people will respond — or not. It is the collective interpretation by others about who you are, what you have to offer, how viable your ideas are and whether or not you are worthy of their full attention. It is your credibility and your likability, and it determines the positions you get, your rewards and the quality of your relationships. It is your career equity. 

Your unique presence is the sum of:

  • How you think about yourself, your abilities, your environment and your potential,
  • The power and viability of your ideas, combined with the quantification of your contribution,
  • Your emotional and social intelligence, and your ability to connect with others, and
  • Confidence in the value you bring, your boldness and appropriateness.

Executive presidence is something you develop and evolve. Left to chance, your career must rely on unmanaged and potentially unintended perception.


Try these three tips for jumpstarting your executive presence:


1. Communicate to be remembered. Contribute in a way that people will remember what you say, consider your insight and opinions, and want to hear more from you. Your communication should be candid, clear and demonstrate emotional and social intelligence and an open mind, even when the discussion becomes contentious. Contribute with sincerity, thoughtfulness and confidence, but void of hubris. Your countenance should demonstrate a willingness to listen and consider input of others.


Ask provocative, illuminating questions about strategic initiatives in meetings. Spark dialogue and exchange to stimulate a new way of thinking or working. Prepare and, if necessary, practice your contributions to ensure clarity and project confidence. Communicate to add value.


2. Demonstrate a company-wide perspective. To present impactful ideas, solutions and initiatives, you’ll need to develop a perspective of the entire company. Learn how the company operates, how different business units interact and impact each other.

To broaden your company perspective:

  • Know which strategic initiatives are important to senior executives.
  • Ask colleagues in other business units about the projects they are working on, the impact of the projects and the challenges they are experiencing.
  • Listen to the concerns of team members from other business units and departments.
  • Ask to shadow a senior executive.
  • Stay abreast of news about your company and industry so that your contributions are informed, fresh and valuable.
  • Discuss with your mentor and sponsor how your strengths, talents and interest can add value to company success.
  • Avoid being known as someone with tunnel vision or silo mentality, whose ideas are relevant to the needs of their own department.


3. Make impactful contributions. Take on assignments that are challenging and impactful, such as implementing a new product, service or business unit. Consider projects that change the way work is done, provide a solution to a company challenge or require collaboration of multiple business units. Demonstrate your ability to manage implementation, overcome challenges, manage people during change and handle budgets and deadlines.


Ask for assignments that will help you to expand your perspective, expand your network, build relationships and develop your knowledge about how other departments work.


Your unique, authentic executive presence is the difference between a dynamic career and a stalled career. Intentionally develop yours and increase your career equity, attract the attention of decision-makers, get your ideas heard and make an impact.

Career advancement specialist Leanna Cruz is president and CEO of Positively Successful Career and Positively Successful magazine, a resource dedicated to helping mid-career professionals get noticed, get promoted and get ahead.

Views expressed in signed blogs are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Network of Executive Women or its Officers, Board members and sponsors.

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