e’ve all witnessed that moment when a VIP enters a room and attracts intense, positive attention. Heads turn, and people gravitate towards them. In other words, they have an X-factor — what’s called the ‘Executive Presence’. This is an amalgam of qualities that true leaders exude — a presence that says you’re in charge and deserve to be. “Some call it charisma; people call it charm,” says Freda Liu, producer and presenter of the BFM show. Wanna move upwards? Then you need to nail this. According to a study done by the Center for Talent Innovation in New York, being perceived as leadership material is essential to being promoted into leadership. In fact, the 268 senior executives surveyed said Executive Presence counts for 26 per cent of what it takes to get promoted. In essence, it’s a foundation that will enable your career to thrive. The good news is that anyone can learn the subtle tricks to this trait. “Once you’ve got the hard skills, completing the package is the soft skills, like developing Emotional Quotient (EQ), working on your image, etc, right down to the way you speak,” says Freda.
A leaf out of Sylvia Ann Hewlett’s new book called
explains that there are three elements of “Presence”: Gravitas (how you act), communication (how you speak) and appearance (how you look). Gravitas is the most important to master. Show confidence in your abilities and knowledge by stating your opinions boldly, speaking firmly, using appropriate body language and making deliberate eye contact. Good communication skills such as speaking firmly in low pitch, and maintaining a smart well-groomed appearance are all elements of assertive behaviour needed for success. Whether you are meeting with your team, presenting a proposal or dealing with conflict, the link between merit and success can be bridged when you are able to develop and project these qualities.
Ultimately, be aware of yourself and practice, practice, practice. Good luck! Knowing what works best for you enables you to present yourself in a way that can help to motivate and influence others. To be assertive is to able to ask for what you want, stand your ground and defend a position in a way that does not diminish others. Empathy not only enables one to recognise and meet another person’s needs, but also read situations.
I’ve got this!