Certain leaders just seem to have that “Business X Factor”—something that propels them to the top of an organization almost effortlessly. Opportunities emerge. The big interview happens. Doors open. Advancement occurs on a fast track. Some people refer to this intangible, success-attracting quality as executive presence. What is it exactly? And how can you incorporate those elusive attributes to increase your career momentum?
Know someone who might benefit from this career tip or find it interesting? Go ahead…pass it along. Better yet, leave me your thoughts or questions related to conveying your executive presence.
How do I stand out in a job interview?
Music producers are usually flooded with demo tapes from young singers hoping to be “discovered,” but only a small percentage ever end up with record deals. Almost all of them are talented and hard-working. So what really tips off producers to identify a future super-star?
Many of them would say they look for that elusive X factor: people with charisma…confident but humble…bold yet vulnerable…polished but real. They have to be incredible singers (that’s a given), but then they have to have “it” to become a chart-topper.
We see the same thing in the business world. It’s highly competitive—sometimes 5 people are vying for the same position. They all have great experience working in Fortune 500 companies, MBAs from top schools, superior references. The deciding factor is often that leadership X factor that can’t be found on their resumes.
One way to define that leadership X factor is what many refer to as executive presence. Tough to describe, yet remarkably obvious when we see it in action. So what does it look like?
Here are the types of behaviors and characteristics that can be found among professionals who exhibit executive presence. People with executive presence:
Look and sound like leaders. They have a strong voice, excellent eye contact, confident attitude, and articulate speech. They are impeccably groomed with attention to detail when it comes to garment choice and condition.
Relate well to people at every level and from all walks of life. They are approachable and work to put others at ease. They are sensitive and patient when it comes to the varying confidence levels of others.
Have superior presentation skills. They know how to build strong business cases with stakeholder input. They use concise and efficient communication while being prepared with more details as needed.
Know how to “read” their audiences and adjust their communication styles accordingly. They shift tone, pace, and even the message if they see that a more logical or emotional approach would increase their effectiveness.
Manage their emotional reactions. They can depersonalize criticism or attacks and remain composed under pressure. They maintain a sense of humor and don’t take themselves too seriously.
Here’s what you need to remember. Sometimes executive presence is the ONLY difference between an outstanding professional who gets marooned in middle management and one who seems to effortlessly rise up through an organization.
As you work to advance in your career, a great resume is important. But be sure to invest time and energy to improve the skills most valued by others: emotional intelligence, leadership, communication, confidence and humility.
The intangible qualities of executive presence—the leadership X factor—could be the key to giving your career a very tangible edge.
Until next time, I’m Sara Canaday.