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Being truly present – Demystifying Executive Presence

Source | LinkedIn : By Vishwapriya Kochhar

Executive Presence. How many times we hear of this phrase? What does it actually mean? Does it mean externalities – being tall, good looking, fit & well proportioned, well dressed. Or does it mean internalities – being strong from within, being capable, able to adapt to change, sharp, endowed with astute business skills? Or is it both? Or is it none?

According to a new study conducted by Center for Talent Innovation, being perceived as a Leader or as Leadership material is very critical to being considered for Leadership positions. According to their study, 268 Senior Executives surveyed said “Executive Presence”(EP), accounts for 26% of what it takes to get promoted. Interesting Statistics.

So what is EP all about?

  • Ability to project gravitas – confidence & being calm under crisis.
  • Study says it’s all about communication – spoken abilities, verbal skills, assertiveness, EQ, the uncanny ability to quickly & accurately read an audience or situation & further adapt oneself to it – Priming in some way.
  • Also, it is indeed about one’s appearance & how it contributes to a person’s perceived presence.
  • It is about working with oneself, influencing beyond formal authority, a subliminal factor that makes people listen up to you, take notice of you, it is about building credibility & sustainable reputational good will.

Harrison Monarth in Best Seller ‘Executive Presence – The Art of Commanding Respect Like a CEO’ provides us with some very fascinating insights. So does Sylvia Ann Hewlett in her famous book ‘Executive Presence – The Missing Link Between Merit & Success’. It seems to be a rare combination of vision, values, charisma, dogged determination, drive & intelligence that marks great leaders.

Cut back to my own personal life. Given my own Napoleon Complex (Apologies to Sir Napoleon) with the challenge of vertical growth, I had to work through levels of Organizational bias around Leadership as I grew up the ladder living with comments about my ‘height’ or lack of it. Being small has it social advantages, but more corporate disadvantages like I don’t look my age; no grey hair (what did you think, no grey matter?) to top it makes matter worse as an Executive Coach where I often get mistook for a young thing till I decide to exercise an unspoken zing – exercise my inner strength & my inner works.

I have often heard, ‘Make her a few inches taller, she would be received more seriously & perceived to be more effective then’  – Wow, what a truckload of BS. Hurt, wounded & feeling attacked, I often wondered did this mean I lacked presence? Will this be my limiting factor?

Read On…

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