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5 Ways to Enhance Your Executive Presence

Advancing your career and finding the right employer and position fit doesn’t have to be complicated. There are things you can do each day to advance toward your dream job and thrive at work. The following article is part of a 5 Ways Series that offers resources and tips on leadership and career advancement you can use. 

Executive presence is an important aspect of presenting oneself in the workplace, regardless of employment level. Making a good impression on others can lead to career advancement and expansion of your network.

A study by the Center for Talent Innovation, a non-profit research organization in New York, surveyed 268 senior executives and found that leaders think “executive presence” counts for 26% of what it takes to get promoted, Forbes reports. This is a telling indicator that it’s definitely something to strengthen in the workplace. Check out 5 ways you can do just that:

1. Use open, relaxed body language.

When you walk into a room, be sure to cover the basics: stand straight with positive energy and be prepared to interact. Small things like eye contact, a firm handshake, a smile can make an important good first impression. Also, stand with your arms and legs uncrossed and fists unclenched with open palms.

“In new situations, you can offer to introduce someone to a person they don’t know who can help ease their way. You can make someone feel valued, and that person in turn will value you,” Kruger says. “You will be admired and appreciated, and they will remember that when you leave. Anyone can learn executive presence — it’s really more about being aware.”

Related: How Do You Develop Executive Presence

2. Listen to coworkers—without distractions.

The ability to listen is considered a leadership trait. Listen without distraction or multitasking. Instead of thinking about what you will say in response as the other person is talking, listen well and take your time replying. After listening, then summarize what you understood from the other person. This will make the other person feel heard and avoid any miscommunications.

Also be sure to ask great questions. It’s a sign of a leader and someone who is self-confident, according to Forbes.

3. Act like the leader you want to be.

Part of this is dressing professionally and appropriately for the setting, which will be different for each person and situation.

Another aspect is deciding what skills and attributes makes you special and particularly valuable in a company, and then pushing that out to the world. Doing this well can inspire confidence in your subordinates, your peers and senior leadership.

From blogs to seminars, Kruger recommends sharing your expertise with others to create a network, take a leadership role, and create new opportunities for yourself.

Being a leader is also about handling stress. Forbes recommends patience, an even temperament, well-prepared and in control of your work at all times.

Related Story: EY’s Leslie Patterson Discusses the Power of Corporate Allyship

4. Communicate clearly and efficiently.

Be clear, strong and action-oriented in your wording, Kruger recommends. Say “I believe” and “My plan is this” versus I was wondering” or “Perhaps.” Verbosity can cloud an instruction or a meeting and can make you lose your audience. The more concise, the better. Communicating effectively builds relationships based on trust and integrity, according to experts.

5. Most importantly —  be your authentic self.

Authenticity is important since many people can detect someone who is not being genuine. But what being authentic looks like could vary from situation to situation.

Lisa Garcia Quiroz, former chief diversity officer and senior vice president of cultural investments at Time Warner, and President of the Time Warner Foundation, also conceived Time for Kids and People en Español. She previously told DiversityInc that executive presence can vary from company to company.

AT&T (DiversityInc Hall of Fame on DiversityInc’s Top 50 Companies for Diversity List) acquired Time Warner under an agreement made in 2016.

“A person with executive presence has to have supreme empathy and understanding of the culture which they’re navigating,” said Quiroz. “Owning your power — this is a phrase I’ve been using more and more around the office, especially with some of the women in the office.”

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