What is Executive Presence Training (And Why it Matters More Than Ever in 2020)

When we aspire to be leaders, the underlying context of that aspiration is the desire to lead, make a positive change, inspire others to do and be better, to head up an organization, to make an impact on others and in some cases leave a lasting impression or legacy.

Leadership is often associated with key traits and skills we expect people to have, at times, we correlate leadership with positions held.

Indeed, leadership is those things and more; it is the ability to have others willingly follow your lead – regardless of position held.

For many organizations, one of the biggest challenges facing them is pipeline issues and succession planning.

While businesses know they need to develop both these tracks, few have a clear path with the exception of perhaps the most senior role(s).

However, if organizations want to thrive and prosper, they need to develop their talent pipeline and often, the most critical skill is leadership presence and in particular executive presence training.

What is Executive Presence?

So, what exactly is executive presence?

It can mean different things to different people; simply put, leadership or executive presence comes from being authentic, building confidence in others, and inspiring others to take meaningful action.

Leadership and developing your executive presence, specifically, is a journey of personal transformation of:

  • who you are;
  • the kind of leader you are;
  • and the kind of leader you want to be

Considered the gold standard in the industry for many reasons, executive presence training is anchored in 30+ years of research and is grounded on understanding the neuroscience of the brain; recognizing that positive change comes with managing triggers, behaviours and your ability to self manage in situations to achieve excellent outcomes.

How to Develop Executive Presence

While developing your leadership is achieved through different methods, executive presence training is a key differentiator because it supports the growth of your courage, confidence, and strengthens your communication skills, builds empathy and enhances your active listening.

Individuals who develop executive presence influence their leadership strategy thus impacting their personal journey and building their capacity to seek opportunity and stand out among leaders.

So why is executive presence different and cited as the gold standard?

The impact stems from the personal development of an individual such that there is a great deal of self-reflection while building capacity and skills that develop a person in a fulsome way.

For example, when we think of great leaders, we associate humble confidence and the ability to project knowledge with credibility.

But, how do you gain credibility and confidence?

It comes with developing trust and making consistently good impressions.  This lasting impression on people is created through consistency in:

  • communication;
  • knowledge of your area of specialization;
  • being authentic,
  • lifting others

For example, when we think of leaders, we associate the ability to communicate effectively and powerfully and in doing so, that quiet confidence comes through.

However, this impression is more than words we use, it is how present we are and how we present (or how we show up) that supports and defines the impression we make.

For example, if you are speaking and moving back and forth, looking down, speaking in a monotone, fidgeting, with arms crossed, imagine the impression you make to an audience regardless of how well you know the material.

Executive presence training develops and teaches an individual to hone the skills to communicate effectively such that what you say and how you say speaks to and reflects your personal brand and the high value you bring as a person along with your knowledge and contributions.

Executive presence also develops leadership in individuals by empowering them to gain a greater understanding of the executive brain and its functionality; specifically, the individual’s triggers and how to manage them and the responses effectively.

The ability to hone and strengthen your interpersonal skills can help navigate work place politics and challenges critical to leadership success.

Benefits of Executive Presence Training

Leadership and those with executive presence are highly sought after.

Every organization wants excellent staff and colleagues who have leadership skills and potential, because these individuals will rise to the occasion, and help lead the organization in times of crisis in a way that instills trust, minimizes disruption and leverages strategic competencies.

Leaders do not just focus on results; leaders with executive presence build on their knowledge and leverage their credibility, confidence and excellent interpersonal skills to make a lasting and positive impression.

Executive Presence requires developing competencies and investment in yourself to empower and expand your career potential.

At Corporate Class Inc., our executive presence training in Toronto and across the globe is designed in such a way that reflection and practice become an integral part of your personal and professional development.

Change and a growth mindset happen when individuals seek to learn, invest in their leadership journey and open themselves up to becoming a better version of themselves. Like all great skills, it also comes with practicing what you learn.

Executive presence training is an investment in your current and future self; it is the gift that keeps on giving.

Why You Need Executive Presence Coaching

When you are present, confident, and reflective and lead with authenticity, you build your Executive Presence and these skills and experience are a game changer.

Diane Craig, President of Corporate Class Inc., emphasizes that, “to be crowned a leader, a person must be recognized as a leader. Our role is empowering people to lead. Executive presence is a blend of related parts that vary according to personality and circumstance. There is no formula; every client is unique. We ensure they evolve and develop their own authentic presence.”

As one aspiring leader and participant has shared, “through our discussions, I have much greater awareness and understanding of how my behaviors and impressions may hold me back from unlocking my potential as an executive. The approach is based on research and the latest thinking on executive presence. The advice has been truthful and direct, yet delivered in a kind way that helps me internalize it, remember it in the moment, and reach for different behaviors. There are certainly other vendors in this space, but I’d be surprised if their service came close to that offered by this high touch, highly effective team.”

Corporate Class Inc. conducts executive presence workshops around the world — from the Americas, to Europe and the Gulf.

CEO’s have endorsed our training and executive presence coaching because of its strong value proposition; “The investment I made with Corporate Class has helped me personally and increased my business exponentially. This program has reinforced the value we place on a work environment that is based on respect. Understanding and consideration for our internal and external clients. This training has also supported our employees in their career development, proving to be a great professional and personal investment for everyone who attended.”

Top business schools around the world recognize Executive Presence as critical to closing the gap between talent and exceptional leadership by finding your voice, developing the quiet confidence to navigate what comes your way, leveraging and maximizing your strengths,. Our client list speaks to the impact our programs have made on our patrons and their organizations around the world.

At Corporate Class Inc. our goal is to empower people to unlock their potential. Let us help you on your journey to empower yourself and others.

24 Tips on How to Increase Your Executive Presence On The Spot

increase-executive-presenceExecutive Presence – what is it? Well, it’s neither exclusive nor elusive, which means you can get it! People aren’t “born” with Executive Presence. Yes, for some it comes more naturally because they inheritably express certain characterizes that are closely linked to Executive Presence. However, for those who do not exhibit these characteristics, there is no need to fret. Executive Presence can absolutely be learned, although it is important to keep in mind that it is a process, not an event. Developing your Executive Presence takes time, hard work and dedication, but in the end, it will set you apart from all others at the table.

To make this journey a little easier for you, we’ve put together 24 quick tips on how you can increase your Executive Presence on the spot:

  1. Increase your focus – staying focused and in the moment is one of the easiest ways to increase your EP on the spot.
  2. Create a personalized, professional voicemail greeting
  3. Update your LinkedIn picture every year or so, or if you change your “look” (and be sure it is a professional picture! Your kids are certainly great, but save that for Facebook)
  4. Connect with your eyes – eye contact goes a long way in helping to express your EP
  5. Don’t gossip! Unless it’s positive gossip
  6. Recognize that your appearance matters, and realize the potential of presenting a professional image
  7. Do a wardrobe cleanse every season to get rid of things you no longer wear or are out of style. This will assure you are always presenting your best, most stylish self.
  8. Prepare (at least mentally) what you are going to wear the night before
  9. Get enough sleep – nothing says “Lack of EP” more than someone falling asleep during a meeting!
  10. Always be on time (and by on time, we mean a bit early)
  11. Practice power posing before any scenario where you might feel nervous
  12. Attend networking events – even if they make you feel uncomfortable!
  13. Increase your emotional intelligence – for this, you may need to work a little longer and harder, but a good place to start is by trying to be more empathetic to others
  14. Make sure you eat before attending a networking event – you weren’t invited because you were hungry!
  15. When networking, set yourself a goal, such as connecting with three people before you leave
  16. Show your attention to detail through your impeccable grooming – the most important piece of appearance is your grooming!
  17. Your network is your net-worth – always be thinking about growing your network, both professional and personal
  18. If you don’t already know it, learn about your company’s corporate culture and what they stand for. Do you fit in? Can you make any adjustments?
  19. Learn the political landscape of your company. For more information, check out our blog series on The Secret Handshake
  20. When giving a presentation, make sure you hit all four corners of the room with your eyes, so that everyone feels included – they will be more likely and willing to listen to you! This is probably the easiest and fasted way to help increase your EP on the spot
  21. Keep a clean and organized desk space – especially if you’re in an open-office environment
  22. Replace “Yes, or” “Yes, but” and “no” with “Yes, and”
  23. Listen more
  24. Write thank you notes

These are some excellent on-the-spot tactics you can apply in your daily lives that will instantly make a big impact on your Executive Presence. For more information on how you can further increase your EP, feel free to check out our Courses, Workshops and Lunch and Learns!

Double Standards: Why Women Often Struggle with Their Executive Presence

women-executive-presenceWe hope you enjoyed our blog series on The Secret Handshake: Mastering the Politics of the Business Inner Circle. There was certainly a lot to cover from the book, and in reality, each section covered could have been expanded upon much more. However, there was one section in particular, on power, that is arguably one of the most important sections from the book. Power can either make or break you; power comes first, and everything falls into place afterwards. It is for that reason that this week we will delve further into notions of power and powerlessness, what it means, and how it affects things like your physiology and emotional and mental states.

Dr. Amy Cuddy, a global leader on research around presence and body language, has recently published a book called Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges. Chapter five in this book is entitled “How Powerlessness Shackles the Self (and How Power Sets It Free), and it examines the differences between personal and social power (which was covered in the Secret Handshake blog series), and the difference between having power and being powerless. Dr. Cuddy begins by explaining that powerlessness can often come about when were are faced with a big change in our lives, and is followed by a self-perceived loss of power, accompanied by feelings of insecurity and anxiety. This depleted state that we experience makes us feel that we cannot cope with the situation at hand. When this happens, opportunities become threats, and therefore we actively avoid them. This is arguably the most important aspect of power versus powerlessness: when you feel powerless, you avoid opportunities, and vice versa. Power activates the behavioural approach system, and powerlessness, the behavioural inhibition system.

Another important aspect of power that is essential to understand is that personal power is uniquely essential (as opposed to social power). As Cuddy states: “Unless we feel personally powerful, we cannot achieve presence, and all the social power in the world won’t compensate for its absence” (114).

Feeling Powerless

  • Feeling powerless impairs thought: powerlessness and the anxiety that results from it undermine what psychologists call executive functions. These executive functions include high-order cognitive tools like reasoning and attention control. It also induces goal neglect, which is the phenomenon of failing to remain focused on a goal
  • Powerlessness makes us feel self-absorbed: the link between anxiety and self-absorption is bidirectional – the more self-focused we are, the more anxious we become
  • Powerlessness prevents presence

Feeling Powerful

  • Power can protect us: power acts as a buffer against negative emotions
  • Power can connect us: feeling powerful can often improve our ability to read and relate to other people. In addition, when we feel powerful we allow ourselves to be more open to others
  • Power can liberate our thinking: power seems to improve our ability to make good decisions under complex conditions
  • Power can synchronize us: feeling powerful can synchronize our thoughts, feelings and behaviours
  • Power can incite action: simply put, feeling powerful makes people proactive
  • Power can make our actions more effective: remember how when we feel powerful, we approach opportunities instead of running away from them?

Clearly, there are so many incredible side-effects of feeling personally powerful. Not only does power positively affect our lives in these ways, but it also affects our physiology. For instance, studies have shown that high-status individuals (i.e. those who possess social power) tend to have high levels of basal testosterone, which is the dominance and assertiveness hormone. Secondly, those who lack feelings of power often exhibit higher levels of cortisol, the stress hormone. It therefore makes sense that people who have a high sense of personal power cope better in crises. Evidently, the power of power cannot, and should not, go unnoticed.

Ways to increase your personal power can be so simple as to adopt a better body posture. Other ways include adjusting how you speak with and engage with others, as well as actively trying to deter negative thoughts that make you feel powerless. When you do so, you will notice feelings of power slowly encroaching in your day-to-day interactions. Others will notice too!

Works Cited

Cuddy, Amy. Presence: Bringing your Boldest Self to your Biggest Challenges. New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2015. Print.

New Year’s Resolutions for the Workplace

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Happy New Year! How will you ring in 2013?

Many of us start off a fresh year by making a resolution or two, aiming to better ourselves through small changes to our habits. This year, consider making a professional New Year’s resolution – because even small improvements in your routine in the office or your business interactions can help you to advance your career or make your mark professionally.

Resolve to Make Connections

Are you a shy person who only talks to familiar colleagues at networking events – or just skips the event altogether? In 2013, resolve to break out of your shell by making new professional connections, both inside and outside of your company. Besides participating in networking events, take other steps to build your contact list: set lunch dates with potential partners or clients, or schedule informational interviews with business contacts. Creating and maintaining professional relationships is an important piece of advancing and growing in your field.

Resolve to Be a Leader

Displaying leadership in the workplace is a solid building block for moving up in your company. You can demonstrate leadership in tasks big and small: anything from taking the initiative to assist a new colleague, to planning and executing an important project. Consistently displaying leadership qualities will work to your advantage, especially as management begins to notice your initiative. Practicing leadership can also boost your confidence and comfort level in the workplace.

Resolve to Improve Your Presentation Skills

No matter how impressive the content of your work, your messages simply will not resonate with colleagues or clients if you cannot deliver them in a strong presentation. Giving great presentations is something that many professionals struggle with, whether it is due to stage fright, nervousness or just unfamiliarity with speaking in front of a large group. Awareness of the key elements of an effective presentation – body language, posture, articulation, well-planned slides and talking points, appearance and attire – plus lots of practice can help you to strengthen your presentation skills and effectively deliver your messages.

Resolve to Build Your Executive Presence

Executive Presence
is not a single trait that can be acquired overnight; rather, it is a hybrid of characteristics, which are all critical for a successful professional to have. A recently published study by the Center for Talent Innovation defines the foundations of Executive Presence as gravitas, communication and appearance, and makes no question of the importance of Executive Presence, stating that it “accounts for 26 percent of what it takes to get the next promotion.” You can work on building your own Executive Presence through training programs, Lunch and Learn sessions, customized webinars and individual consultations that focus on skills such as communication, business etiquette, and professional image.

Even through small changes, we can all work toward becoming stronger and more successful professionals. What better time to improve your daily habits for lasting results than at the start of a brand new year!

 

Are Men More Strategic Than Women?

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executive presenceAre you a woman leader seeing your equally skilled male counterparts climb the corporate ladder while you get left behind? Does a promotion that you’re the perfect match for always seem to elude you? Ever wonder what’s stopping you from landing a senior level management position?

In many organizations (whether they voice it out or not) it is a commonly held belief that women are NOT as strategic as men, and hence many male senior executives believe that although skilled and talented, women are just not ready yet for senior-level leadership in the firm.

In a recent article published by the Huffington Post, leadership strategist Rebecca Shambaugh strongly disagrees with the above commonly held belief. She states that:

…in working with and coaching hundreds of women leaders, there’s no question in my mind that women are strategic thinkers. After all, most women constantly fill multiple roles. This requirement gives them critical problem solving skills and the ability to orchestrate complex situations — two areas that are closely related to strategic thinking skills. So the issue is not that women aren’t strategic thinkers. The problem is that they sometimes don’t come across that way. And in business, as in life, perception is reality.

So how do you as a bright, talented executive woman come across as more strategic? Here are 3 key areas you need to focus on: Building cross-departmental experience, developing executive presence and using the right words.

Broad-based Experience – Relative to men, women often lack the strategic experience that comes from time spent in P&L, operations and line positions. In addition, women tend to mistakenly believe that they need to be experts in their current position or functional area. As a result, they focus intently on that aspect of the business or organization, narrowing their perspective.

Instead, women need to proactively seek positions, projects, and assignments outside of their position, department or area of expertise. Cross-functional and external assignments offer a broader perspective, the opportunity to stretch and grow, a better understanding of how the pieces of the business fit and work together and a more integrated, strategic view.

Executive Presence – A recent study identified the top three differentiators that make for a successful executive, and one of those key differentiators is executive presence. At the senior ranks, everyone has technical competency, but not everyone has presence. Presence is the way you carry yourself: The persona that you convey in meetings and conversations. Executive presence is characterized by self-confidence, a sense of authority, decisiveness and assertiveness. Women have a tendency to be helpful and polite to the point of not stating their opinions or defending themselves as an authority.

If you are a woman who wants to enhance your executive presence, know and state your opinions firmly, backing them with strong rationale. Ask thoughtful, strategic questions rather than simply sharing information and blindly agreeing with others. Boards and executives are looking for people who can challenge old ways of thinking and doing. Don’t personalize situations. See business as business. Feelings don’t count … organizational goals do.

Language – Oftentimes, women’s choice of words when communicating can send the message that they are not as strategic as men. It’s not necessarily what women say but how they say it.

For example, consider a senior level, female HR professional who is concerned about a lack of cross-collaboration within the organization. She presents to the executive team “an initiative to create a more inclusive culture,” but the bottom-line focused senior executives tune her out. Consider the difference if she had reframed the proposal to reflect a more strategic approach: “Given the reality of our current talent shortage, we need to look at a human capital plan and develop an inclusive, learning-based culture that will align with and support our growth strategy.”

All leaders — men and women — need to speak the language of business. When presenting information, reports or proposals, do your homework first. Consider the strategic aspects of your project. How does it fit into the organization’s vision, business strategy, growth plan or annual goals? How will it drive better business results? You must understand how it will impact the bottom line and be prepared to communicate that connection clearly and succinctly.

Now that you know that you need to gain varied experience, build executive presence and use just the right business language – Where do you begin?

That’s where we can help. In order to be perceived as more strategic you’ll have to make a few adjustments, but the good news is it’s not difficult or complex – all you need to learn is how!

Corporate Class’s exclusive one-on-one training sessions will not only help you become more aware of your strategic capabilities as a woman, but we’ll also show you how to build executive presence and use the right body language to get ahead in your career and hopefully bag that next promotion!