Have you ever witnessed that moment when a leader walks into the room and instantly brings an air of leadership? Once she starts talking, you know immediately that this person is in charge, but what is it that makes you feel this way? Does it have to do with her posture, gesture, movements or way of speaking? As you may have guessed, Executive Presence can be difficult to define and even harder to understand.
Executive presence is a combination of qualities that lets others know you’re in charge or you should be. It influences people to listen and act. Some think you have to be born with this “it” but research and leadership examples tell us that executive presence can be developed over time. Here are three things women can do to boost their executive presence.
1. Stop Apologizing When it’s Unwarranted
A Pantene ad first aired in early November 2013 that showed situations where women say they’re “sorry” for the things they shouldn’t. Amy Schumer did a sketch of a panel of professional women that spent most of their time apologizing. I can personally say that the commercial and Amy did a good job in revealing something most of us are probably guilty of even if we don’t realize it.
In a February 2013 piece for Jezebel, Karyn Polewaczyk stated that women over-apologize because they feel “undeserving.” And research from an issue of Psychological Science has confirmed that women apologize more often than men do. Excessively over apologizing can deny you the respect you deserve, convey a lack of confidence, or come across as disingenuous.
The next time you feel the urge to say “I’m sorry,” pause to reflect why? Are you using it as a filler word? Trying to not come across as rude? Has it become a habit? Or are you truly sorry?
2. Operate on the Edge of Discomfort
When was the last time you stepped out of your comfort zone and ventured on a new challenge? Dr. Elizabeth Lombardo, therapist and author of Better Than Perfect, states that “Breaking your mold can only make you stronger and more confident to reach higher levels in your professional and personal life.” Once you challenge yourself, you start to feel an endorphin rush that will leave you recharged afterward, perhaps to try something bigger and more challenging the next time around.
Operating outside of your comfort zone is an important factor in personal growth. Don’t be afraid to present yourself as a capable, valuable, and talented employee. More importantly, look for a sponsor who acknowledges the contributions you have made in your organization. Someone who will not only provide you with valuable information to hone your skills but will also work as an advocate for your progress in the company.
3. Embrace Authenticity
Often I see women who are advancing in their careers, who aren’t trying to be “like Bob” or “like Mary.” They are simply themselves.
“Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It's about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen.”
-- Brene Brown, Author
Remind yourself; you are already good enough, strong enough, and smart enough. You don’t need other people’s validation; you are already valuable. We might be tempted to try to show the world that we are perfect in hopes that we will be accepted by the people around us, but it’s impossible to please everyone and we shouldn’t try. The beauty of a woman lies in her vulnerability, authentic imperfections, and complex emotions. Once we embrace the person we are and decide to be authentic, instead of trying to be someone we think others expect us to be, we let ourselves experience real happiness, and real success.
When you express your confidence, take on new opportunities even in the face of fear, and express the real you for the world to see you become a role model for others to do the same and lead the way for Executive Presence.
About the Author: Michele Thompson Rosario, CEO of Bright Effects, helping entrepreneurs get clients, get traffic, and get results.