27 September 2023

Seven ways to develop being extraordinary

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Rome was not built in a day — and neither is executive presence. Roberta Matuson shows how it can be done, bit by bit.

I’m declaring June Executive Presence month, as I’ve had an unusually high number of coaching prospects ask me how they can improve their executive presence.

Most want to do this by yesterday, which is impossible.

Learning how to project more executive presence is a process that takes time and effort and requires one to stay the course.

Here are seven steps you can take to improve your executive presence.

Observe people who have a strong executive presence: Who in your organisation do you look up to?

Is there someone you drop everything to watch on TV when they are interviewed (or do the interviewing)?

Take note of their body language, tone of voice, and other nonverbal cues.

Are they speaking in a monotone voice, or does their voice have inflection? Are they sitting back with arms folded or leaning forward when communicating with others?

Do they look engaged or bored out of their minds when speaking with people?

Jot down their positive attributes, and you’ll most likely see a pattern that you can emulate.

Ask for feedback and take this feedback to heart: Lots of people ask for feedback, and when this feedback isn’t what they want to hear, they ignore it.

Promise yourself you won’t be one of those people.

Ask your boss if they’d be willing to invest in a 360-assessment of you, so you know exactly how you are perceived in the organisation.

Review the feedback and choose one or two items to focus on that will help you improve your executive presence.

Invest in a coach: The best investment you can make is in yourself.

Your executive presence determines whether you gain access to opportunity, which naturally will affect your pay.

It’s challenging to change habits, even more so when operating in a vacuum. A coach can hold up the mirror and safely guide you toward a more favourable outcome.

Define your personal executive presence: One of the biggest misnomers about executive presence is that you must become someone you’re not.

This simply isn’t true. You can achieve executive presence by doubling down on areas where you tend to shine while eliminating behaviour that is holding you back.

Record yourself: Ask a colleague for permission to record your next Zoom call and then watch it back to take notes on your body language, voice control, and tone.

Although this might initially be painful, in the long run it will enable you to focus on those areas where improvement is necessary.

You can then join Toastmasters or hire an expert in communication skills to help you communicate more effectively.

Work on your influencing skills: The people with the most executive presence have mastered the art of developing it into meaningful influence.

They can effectively communicate their vision and quickly get people behind it.

You can learn these skills by taking an online course, reading books, or working with a coach.

Build a strategic network: There’s a reason why people want to be seen as part of Oprah Winfrey’s inner circle.

That’s because her star power radiantly reflects on others, making them more of a person of interest than if they were alone.

Find the people in your organisation who have influence and charisma and start to build relationships with them.

Don’t reach for the stars too quickly. Instead, work your way up the organisation and build solid relationships with people who, like you, want to step up their game.

It’s not enough to want more executive presence. You must commit to focusing on the necessary skills to build it, as they are critical to workplace success.

With practice and dedication, it won’t be long before people look at you and ask: “Wow! What must I do to come across as professional as you?”

*Roberta Matuson is President of Matuson Consulting which helps Fortune 500 companies and high growth businesses create exceptional workplaces leading to extraordinary results. She can be contacted at [email protected].

This article first appeared at matusonconsulting.com

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