How Women Leaders Can Cultivate Executive Presence
The key for women leaders to build executive presence is to develop a management style that is appropriate for the business world, yet authentic to their personalities. It’s a myth that leadership qualities are innate and present at birth. In reality, every woman can work to develop her executive presence. Leaders are not born; they are cultivated. To gain respect in the boardroom or as a small business owner, a woman must develop certain managerial traits.
Women leaders who have executive presence make people feel more at ease. Being a demanding boss who pounds the table to show strength breaks down cooperation and alienates team members. For employees to follow their leader, it’s important that she is inclusive of every person by drawing him or her into the conversation. It’s imperative to include everyone, ignore no one, and make people feel better about themselves, rather than worse. When a leader is aware of how others feel, she is exhibiting executive presence.
Like other character traits, executive presence is an inside job. What matters more than a woman’s suit or table manners at a company dinner is her authentic self and voice. Of course, wearing professional attire and knowing which fork to use for the salad course is important to show finesse, but core values, beliefs, and clarity about the company’s mission statement are much more crucial.
It’s important that women leaders show they have the wellbeing of the team at heart, rather than their own personal interests. This is especially true if there is constructive feedback to offer or a position to argue. It’s critical to focus on what is best for the company, rather than what is personally troubling. If a leader comes across as argumentative and/or self-serving during a meeting, she may earn the reputation of someone who is not a team player.
Sense of Humor
A sense of humor is the lubricant of life. It can inject ease into nearly any situation. If a difficult conversation must take place, softening it with humor can help. It’s important to keep it tasteful and not laugh at someone else’s expense, however. Breeziness and a light tone can soften the mood of a tough crowd.
Education and Credentials
Education and credentials matter, and this is especially true for women who are very young or are trying to gain entrance into male-dominated fields. If females in the workplace want to garner respect from their peers, earning credentials and degrees can do the trick. Not only does a woman gather valuable knowledge through university courses, but she also gains points in executive presence.
Too many women adopt crisp, serious, and excessively professional tones in order to project executive presence. This formal approach is the exact opposite of what should be done. Managers who have true executive presence are engaging, approachable, and friendly. Warmth, compassion, and genuine kindness should be shown to every employee, from the janitor to the chairman of the board.
It’s important that women leaders build their own personal brand and project it constantly. In creating a persona, a woman gives herself permission to be herself: a person who delights in doing things a bit differently, i.e. authentically. Women shouldn’t try to morph into stereotypical executives, but instead project who they are relentlessly, while embracing all challenges, and in doing so, build executive presence.
Women leaders should fret less about commanding boardrooms and worry more about being truly present. When a person commands a room, she aims to be the center of attention, and this is the opposite of what should be aimed for. Instead, it’s crucial to focus on others, the situation at hand, and to be truly present for teammates, the cause, and the company.
Having the ability to comfortably and confidently stand in front of a group of employees, peers, or customers is a key skill that women leaders must develop. Public-speaking skills can be fostered through work with an experienced coach or honed in a public-speaking group or class. However these skills are obtained, they are necessities, because being able to deliver business messages with poise, grace, and clarity is imperative.
Leadership skills are not something people are born with; these traits must be developed over time. In order to be a savvy professional that is endowed with executive presence, women leaders need to hone the necessary skills and exhibit them in the workplace. For more tips and tools to be a better manager, check out the resources at Resource Bucket.