How to Develop Strong Executive Presence in a Large Organization
Posted on January 14, 2019 by Ally Powell
It’s an ambitious professional’s career tug-of-war — how do you develop a strong, engaging and authentic executive presence throughout your career in a large organization so you can stand out and grow within that company?
It can seem an impossible task. Luckily, good executive presence is not innate. You’re not born with it or kicked to the corporate curb. Indeed, the archetype leaders and individuals who exude strong executive presence do so because they’ve intentionally chosen to invest time, attention and practice to its development.
You can be one of those leaders.
Take your career growth into your own hands. A strong executive presence nurtures the tools and talents not only to excel across various business situations but to excel in showcasing your best self regardless of the situation. Even at the largest, most intimidating companies or organizations, you can begin cultivating excellent executive presence within yourself today.
What Is Executive Presence in a Large Organization?
Good executive presence fits the proverbial saying — you know it when you see it. Yet it fundamentally centers on one thing — a self-aware professional knows how to read, control and leave a room with a desired, lasting impression.
While its exact formula will vary because people vary, the best examples of executive presence continually possess these traits:
Presentation: Strong individuals in a large company present themselves with intention. They dress and speak for the occasion, are deliberate with words and actions and maintain even the smallest acts of presence, such as holding eye contact. Others are aware of their composure as soon as they enter a room.
Posture: Those with leadership presence support their confident carriage through keen nonverbals. Their body language is open yet assured, their expressions inviting and their overall mannerisms composed but warm.
Persuasion: Executive leaders keep people at the center of business and can inspire by merely being themselves. They are authentically persuasive not because they’re assertive but because they know how to connect — with individuals, with teams and with entire rooms of strangers.
Confidence: Competence without the cockiness is an essential balance found in those with executive presence. They radiate calm while still maintaining substance and subject-matter expertise. They do not put others down for the sake of their ego. Most importantly, they know when to ask for answers or assistance themselves.
Many forward-thinking professionals want to be viewed as calm and competent at work, be granted larger responsibilities and then reap the rewards of compounding social and professional gravitas. However, these perks are the byproducts of the developing executive-presence process — not presence itself.
Honing leadership traits and behaviors will help you grow within a large company because it will set you up on the following path:
1. Make More Authentic Connections
Those who can positively curate impressions and build a professional brand do, in large part, have more extensive networks. They know more people in more departments, feel confident approaching others and forging interpersonal links. What’s more, they don’t do these things for show. Strong executive presence is inherently authentic and deliberate. This results in a network of people who genuinely like you and will remember and advocate accordingly.
2. Influence More Important Decisions
Those with perceived leadership presence are more likely to be approached with greater and greater work responsibilities and sought out by others for insight. These questions or tasks may not necessarily be in the sought-after individual’s wheelhouse. Yet their reputation as credible, competent and adept translates into a sort of experience harvesting that those without executive presence will rarely encounter.
3. Build Experiences and a Resume That Cannot Be Ignored
Too many individuals still don’t take their career journey into their own hands. Yes, planning, preparing and developing an executive presence from your earliest days at a company will garner organic attention. You don’t need to wait around for higher-ups to advocate on your behalf, though — especially in larger corporations with dozens, if not hundreds, of employees vying for attention.
Take charge of your burgeoning leadership presence. Negotiate raises, benefits or additional professional perks. Pitch your own promotion. Such career ownership is not embarrassing or an overstep — it’s inevitable. Building a stronger executive presence puts you in the driver’s seat and assures that pitch has a backbone and cannot be ignored.
How to Develop Executive Presence and Grow Within a Large Company
Powerful executive presence in a large organization is a unique combination of attention and practices honed over time. There isn’t an exact formula to get there — or even a definitive conclusion. Rather, those who set their sights on fostering an executive presence regardless of career stage can begin doing so within their current company with these following steps:
1. Ask for Feedback
Many think they possess enough self-awareness and introspection to assess growth areas accurately on their own. While this isn’t always naive, few of us are self-aware enough to see our full picture. Professional feedback is the only way to patch these blind spots.
Those who are scared to ask for constructive criticism rarely see executive presence improvement. And they don’t see these improvements because they aren’t putting themselves in situations where constructive criticism gets relayed. Sure, we might not have control over what feedback comes our way, but we do have control of our response to it. Ask for feedback, and begin to control your professional narrative.
2. Seek Professional Development Opportunities
Over the course of knowing how to grow within a large company, an individual must grow themselves. In no way is this more potent than through keen professional development opportunities.
Take courses, attend conferences and read books and articles on your particular executive presence growth areas. For example, say feedback has determined you could benefit from persuasive speaking training. You could attend a series of seminars on storytelling, evidence presentation, emotional engagement strategies and more.
Consider executive presence training and coaching with the following focuses to boost your personal brand at a large company:
Executive Presence Professional Speaking: Courses and coaching to bolster your business presentation skills, as well as general on-and-off script communication styles and savvy. Learn how to clearly and effectively communicate key messages, relay a vision and shape ideas to their intended audience with clarity and conviction.
Executive Presence Relationship Coaching: The backbone of business is people. As such, those with an executive presence in large companies understand how to connect with anyone they meet, from team members to complete strangers at a conference. A business-relationship course or mentor deepens interpersonal fluency and develops the communication habits necessary for this pinnacle aspect of leadership presence, making you someone people are drawn to and want to work with.
Executive Presence Public Speaking: Tips and tools for ambitious professionals to become electrifying, engaging public presenters. Many public speaking courses place particular attention on playing to your natural speaking strengths and intuitions, plus sharpening persuasive tactics to have individuals be drawn to your words effortlessly.
3. Find a Mentor or Role Model
The importance of mentors and role models when developing executive presence is twofold. First, they provide your own personal blueprint of someone with leadership presence to emulate. Second, they become feedback central. They’ll help whittle and chisel core strengths and executive presence growth areas, plus tell you what they want to see from you. It’s a win-win relationship to unlock near-daily executive presence coaching.
4. Practice Your Verbal Communication
While those with executive presence don’t necessarily book constant speaking engagements or wield the most extensive vocabulary, they’re almost always strikingly good communicators. They’ve learned the art of captivating with words. Career-driven individuals looking to do the same have some communication strategies to begin rehearsing, from pacing, pitch and idea presentation to voice projection, breathing and even infusing verbal personality like humor or wit.
5. Practice Your Nonverbal Communication
Equally as important are the nonverbal communication patterns of executive leaders. From the way you carry yourself, the sense of calm and composure you have upon entering a room to proper amounts of eye contact, hand gestures and standing posture, nonverbal communication is like your body’s around-the-clock poker tell. You may think you’re speaking and acting with executive presence, but if your body language says otherwise, no one else will feel that executive presence.
How to Use Executive Presence to Stand Out in a Large Company
Developing true executive presence allows you to stand out in your organization for all the right reasons. It is authentic and organic, nurtured over time and highlights the talents you already possess.
Use the following steps to break from the small-fish-in-a-big-pond paradox and make your impact seen and felt at work.
1. Exude Confidence
Confidence is a mindset you can always project, even if you don’t feel it. It centers you, strengthens you and spills over into every aspect your demeanor, your voice and your interpersonal interactions. For that reason, it is square one in the process of cultivating executive presence to stand out at work.
Because executive presence is all about perception — and, more specifically, the perception you give to others across the large company you work for — you must find ways to fuel it positively. Confidence is crucial here, and like a muscle, you can take steps to build it each and every day you step foot into the office.
2. Quantify Your Hard Work
Your responsibilities, projects and work achievements all can be quantified in some way. Yes, this is more intuitive for some jobs than others, as it will be more straightforward to ascribe numbers and quantities to particular career tasks over others.
Don’t let this discourage you from this key aspect of building your perception as someone with qualified leadership presence. When quantifying your contributions to the team, you are simply finding ways to take note of, document and compile the work you’re already doing. Even the “smallest” tasks or activities that are part of your everyday expectations are up for reflection — particularly if you’ve found more efficient, productive or dynamic ways of executing them.
Quantifying your hard work achieves a few presence-based professional goals. As evidence of your contributions compiles, you will find yourself developing stronger levels of confidence. That confidence then compounds into executive authority. You will feel more confident taking on new assignments, asking deeper questions, making insightful contributions during meetings and in general owning the scope of your work — all while enriching your resume for recognizable leadership presence.
3. Build Social Connections
Working hard and quantifying results is essential — but never at the expense of networking within a large company, across departments and cubicles.
With confidence in your back pocket and a wider variety of assignments and projects under your helm, you’ll find yourself naturally building stronger work relationships. You’ll be meeting more individuals and having interactions outside of immediate domains. This, in turn, sets you up for greater rapport with real people, who can then perceive your confidence, fluidity and ability to stand out in the crowd.
In a large company, the value of interpersonal connections cannot be overstated. Simply put, the more people like you, the more they’ll support your success.
While this is innately beneficial to growing within a large company, it should never be done without authenticity and a genuine investment in those you meet. Networking for the sake of networking will quickly detract from building your executive presence in a large company, not add to it. Many can tell the difference.
4. Leverage Network Connections Into Opportunities and Experiences
Expanding your work reach across departments and disciplines will catapult your executive presence. That’s because you’re putting in the effort, tackling more projects and organically making yourself known throughout the organization not by merely talking a big skillset talk, but walking the walk, too.
These new connections and project experiences become the tools to leverage next-stage career growth in your large company. Having cross-organization links and solid recommendations from others opens you up for promotional opportunities, which you have positioned yourself to qualify for directly.
5. Leverage Those Opportunities Into Advancement
Reflect on the entirety of your executive presence journey so far — you’ve developed confidence, then used that confidence to catch broader work experiences to enrich your resume. Meanwhile, you’ve made connections and widened your network, leveraging said hard work into perceived competence, persistence and targeted skill sets.
In other words, you’ve grown your resume, confidence and connections. It’s a winning formula for to how to stand out within a large company.
You now have exactly what you need to qualify for a direct advancement — or pitch one yourself. You’ll tick the qualifying boxes, present a rich resume and have a team of advocates on your side, with your executive presence characteristics the glue holding it all together.
VoicePRO® understands that good executive presence is not an achievement or a destination — it’s a habit. Even in the largest of companies, there are so many ways to unleash the executive presence traits and characteristics you inherently possess. With the right coaches, you’ll see how, too.
VoicePRO offers a suite of executive presence coaching, speaking and engagement consulting services to uncover your leadership demeanor and stand out in your company. Sessions and programs can be individualized based on your exact goals, and we remain with you as a resource partner as your talents and career priorities evolve.
VoicePro delivers transformative leadership and communication programs for individuals and companies across the globe. Through VoicePro, professionals develop the advanced skills needed to communicate clearly, influence audiences and achieve results.
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