I have been asked more and more lately how to help people become ‘self-aware’ of their behavior and attitudes and the impact (both negative and positive) that they have on others. This is not an easy thing to address with another human, and it is usually not easy for them to hear. But if we are willing an open to growth and becoming the best of who we really are – then we really should find ways to become more aware of ourselves.
This intangible, yet powerful, impact we have on others is often referred to as “bearing” or presence. It incorporates a range of verbal and nonverbal patterns (one’s appearance, posture, vocal quality, accents, tone, volume, body language and subtle movements)—a whole collection of signals that others process into an evaluative impression of a person.
So what, you may ask? What’s ‘Presence’ got to do with anything?
Let’s imagine for a moment that someone in your company was recently promoted to a leadership position. This person successfully competed against other qualified candidates, some of whom were probably just as experienced and smart… maybe even more so.
So why was this person ‘tapped’ and the others were not? The decision most likely came down to – or was strongly influenced by – degrees of “executive presence”.
An Internet search on executive presence reveals definitions and advice on everything from dressing for success and patterns of speech to more fundamental issues of charisma and emotional and social intelligence.
But executive presence comes in all shapes and sizes. Who would have thought, 30 years ago, that Mark Zuckerberg, the then 26-year-old founder of Facebook, would have been one of the youngest men ever to be named Time Magazine’s Person of the Year in 2010? He certainly has a presence – his own authentic version of it.
So what really IS presence? Are some born with it and others not so much?
Most people aren’t born with executive presence. They develop the requisite skills with first AWARENESS, then experience, maturity and a great deal of effort. Here are some of the qualities that contribute to executive presence. How many do you possess or would like to develop? How would increasing your self-awareness and ‘presence’ impact your life and those around you?
Genuine, open, straightforward, comfortable in one’s skin.
Loves their profession, job, industry, and life in general.
Believes in optimism.
Communicates thoughts, feelings and insights with clarity and simplicity.
Is a master of metaphors and stories that make an impact.
Is flexible and willing to adjust goals.
Decisive under pressure.
A bias toward action.
An attitude of giving, rather than getting.
Works in the service of common goals.
Willing to admit mistakes, misjudgments, fears, and uncertainties in ways that are endearing. Seeks answers and advice; listens to others.
Genuinely cares about others; sees both strengths and weaknesses in people.