I was recently asked by a client, “What traits evoke executive presence?”
I love questions whose answers vary wildly depending on who is doing the answering.
While I await your thoughts in my in box, here are a few of my own:
Physicality/Demeanor: On the most surface level, there is a way someone with presence—in any role—carries themself: they stand/sit up straight, look people in the eye, shake hands firmly, speak up.
In olden times it was outlined in books about deportment. In modern times, you can hear Will Smith talk about it in his movie, “Hitch” https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0386588/ (Ironic? You betcha.)
What soft skills evoke executive presence?
Responsiveness comes to mind immediately.
The people who work with and for me know my rule: we call with good news, bad news and most importantly, no news.
What does that mean?
If the end of the day comes and you don’t have an answer for someone, call and let them know you are still working on it. Otherwise they’re in limbo…and you’re in their crosshairs when you do call.
Another invaluable soft skill is accountability.
With accountability, it’s not enough to say, “Oh, my bad” (D.o. N.o.t. E.v.e.r. S.a.y. I.t.) once something happens.
If it’s possible, get in front of any mistake. Turn yourself in.
If that’s not possible, apologize immediately, “This is my fault and I apologize”; then do what it takes to clean it up.
In my experience, people care less about the mistake than they do about how you handle it.
Finally (and here is the big reveal on the meaning behind the title of today’s post)
A boss—someone with executive presence—is the person who remembers everyone is on the same team; who tells colleagues, “Good job,” and gives credit where credit is due when upper management asks.
It may seem counterintuitive, but it’s the fastest way to join their ranks.