May 18, 2024

How to develop executive presence when you are not the leader

There are three ways to develop executive presence when you are not a leader. This is important for you if you are more junior in your career, if you’re not yet in a management or leadership position, but you aspire to be one day.

How to develop executive presence when you are not the leader

You want your boss and other higher-ups in the organization to see you as leadership material. The first thing you need to do is to show up like a leader.

How to show up like a leader

Being seen as a potential leader before actually having a leadership role is very important for career advancement. Your boss needs to envision you in a leadership capacity before promoting you. There are several ways to demonstrate leadership presence:

• Make yourself visible in a way that portrays leadership qualities. Don’t just blend into the background as an employee. Carry yourself with confidence.

• Your boss is taking a risk by promoting you into leadership, so you need to ease their concerns early on. They will be evaluating:
– If you can handle the responsibilities
– If you have what it takes to lead others successfully
– If promoting you will reflect well on them

Focus on these 6 areas to “show up” as a leader:

1. First Impression – Walk into rooms with poise and confidence, like a leader would.

2. Professional Appearance – Dress like a leader, not an entry-level employee. Clothing should be appropriate for a role you aspire to.

3. Body Language – Exhibit confident, self-assured body language. Avoid meek or insecure demeanors.

4. Punctuality – Being on time demonstrates you respect others’ time, an important leadership skill.

5. Responsiveness – Respond promptly to requests/communications. Don’t make others wait.

6. Level of Contribution – Go above and beyond what is expected. Don’t just do the bare minimum.

Study the leaders you admire. Analyze how they command a room, what presence they have. Emulate the qualities you respect in their leadership approach.

Once you have mastered portraying an executive presence through the areas above, you increase your chances of being viewed as a prime leadership candidate.

how to develop executive presence when you are not the leader
How to develop executive presence when you are not the leader

 

How to communicate like a leader

Once you have mastered showing up physically like a leader, you can focus on your communication style, which forms a large part of executive presence. When we think of how leaders communicate, we imagine them being:

• Clear and concise in their explanations
• Precise with details and descriptions
• Holding strong opinions confidently
• Open-minded to others’ perspectives

The leaders you admire likely exhibit all of these communication traits, which contributes greatly to their executive presence. You would never view someone as a true leader if they:

• Communicated passively or hesitantly
• Didn’t share their candid opinions
• Downplayed their thoughts or contributions

This doesn’t mean you have to be egotistical or boastful. In fact, that could turn people off. But you do need to demonstrate self-confidence and conviction in your beliefs and ideas. This is how you will get people to believe in you, agree with you, and ultimately follow your lead.

To develop a more leader-like communication style:

• Speak up more during meetings instead of staying quiet
• Respectfully disagree when you have a differing view
• Share unique perspectives to encourage diverse thinking
• Take credit for your work, don’t let others take all the glory
• Improve clarity so people can easily follow your thought process
• Adapt your voice tone, speed, and pauses to keep people engaged

Every time you communicate is an opportunity to build executive presence and be seen as a leader. Leverage these opportunities.

An often overlooked aspect of developing presence is your listening skills. True leaders:

• Listen attentively without interrupting
• Ask questions to fully understand others’ points
• Make people feel heard and valued for their input

Focus on both improving how you communicate and how you receive communication from others. This balanced approach is key to a strong leadership presence.

How to interact like a leader

When you’re an emerging leader without an official leadership title, developing executive presence through your interactions is crucial. Executive presence isn’t just about how you look or sound – it’s the impression and experience you create for others during every interaction.

The key to executive presence is how people feel after engaging with you. Do they walk away feeling that you are:

– Capable and confident?
– Trustworthy and competent?
– Comfortable, not intimidated?
– Empowered and good about themselves?

Leaving others with these positive impressions is how you exhibit executive presence, even without an official leader role. While executive presence may seem vague, here are specific ways to develop it:

– Build certainty within yourself and your abilities by improving self-confidence
– Get clear on your values and unique value proposition (see this video)
– Set high standards for integrity, ethics, and boundaries
– Understand and exceed professionalism standards in your industry
– Support your co-workers and align your efforts to your boss’s goals
– Develop emotional intelligence to adjust to others’ emotions

By focusing on these areas, your interactions will make others perceive you as an emerging leader with executive presence, even before your next promotion.

How to develop executive presence when you are not the leader

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