Executive Presence for Women Leaders in 2021

Exuding Executive Presence adds a layer of challenges and opportunities for women to excel in the workplace. Diane Craig, President & Founder, Corporate Class Inc., shares her observations.

We are slowly and steadily overcoming the various challenges resulting from the pandemic. We have more lessons to learn as workplaces worldwide are moving towards a hybrid model of work-from-home and from working in the office, which requires current and aspiring leaders to step up and up-skill to lead teams.

Women, in general, tend to take on more responsibilities in raising children and ensuring their households run as efficiently as their offices do.

But, how does one exude Executive Presence, 24/7, with no breaks and no clear distinction in their work and home spaces?

Expert coach, Diane Craig, answers key questions to help address this challenge in 2021.

What defines Executive Presence now as we move towards a hybrid model of work cultures?

Executive Presence always has and will always come down to how you show up in any situation and how you present yourself.

Your presence and engagement during a conversation in the office might be somewhat different from how you show up on an online platform, however, the basic guidelines remain the same.

When you enter your office or a boardroom for a meeting, others immediately develop a first impression of how you are doing today — if you look happy or weighed down, if you will be able to contribute to a conversation effectively, etc. This first impression sets the tone for the rest of the engagement.

Energy flows where intention goes, and those around you pick up on where your energy is flowing at the moment.

Executive Presence is really about the ability to connect authentically and to inspire and motivate those around you.

We say that inspiring is the pull, motivating is the push.

So, if I want to pull my team in and engage them, I, as a leader, need to show up authentically.

For some, let’s say you are an introvert, at times, you will have to stretch yourself, and express yourself more passionately than you normally would to show you are excited about what you are talking about. This may not be your preferred communication style, but that’s what it will take for your message to be as impactful as you want it to be.

As we start to move fluidly between working from home and the office, there are more demands on most women, many of whom are within the sandwich generation. How do we manage that?

First, it needs to be understood and communicated within the family. A friend of mine said while her children were role-playing, her five-year-old told his playmate, “Can’t you see I am on a Zoom call?” while pretending to work on a laptop. We were both taken aback because we would have never thought of saying things like that when we were five. This just speaks to how our children pick up on the behaviours around them and also have developed their understanding of our challenges.

The second most important step to exuding executive presence, after showing the best version of your authentic self, is to be present in the moment. We need to navigate these situations using solutions like sticky notes on the door indicating your office is off-limits right now, scheduling meetings around your children’s schedule if required, and communicating your needs to your partner and team. Of course, it isn’t going to be perfect, and it takes a lot of practice, however, it lays the foundation for your success.

A good leader needs to adapt to unforeseen challenges to engage and motivate those around them under any circumstance. You have to be that role model.

How does developing Executive Presence differ for women?

Over the last 30 years, I have coached, worked with, and mentored many women. Two things I hear most often are:

  1. they doubt themselves a lot more than their male counterparts and
  2. their passion often gets equated with “being emotional.”

Both result from systemic practices and stereotypes that are believed to be true and are not backed by evidence.

The first factor results from the old style of leadership where command and control ruled the boardroom.

We think of men as confident and women as capable in our teams, and that needs to change.

As a woman, if you are invited to speak about something in a meeting or conference, it’s because you are an expert in the field and you should own it. It’s the same with applying for jobs. The lack of confidence keeps most women from getting through doors, not for lack of experience, expertise, or abilities, more often it is just about confidence and interrupting that self-doubt.

That’s why I love organizations such as The White Ribbon, whose mandate is to enable men to help develop women’s voices. It’s important for women to have male mentors and champions who help them overcome their fears and self-doubt, which are often baseless.

If women are passionate about an idea or a project, they are often perceived as emotional especially in non-inclusive workplaces.

In developing your Executive Presence as a woman, be true to yourself and remain authentic. This requires you to be assertive. Asserting oneself means respecting yourself by speaking up your mind, respecting others by acknowledging their point of view and, without expectation of them necessarily agreeing with you.

This is different from aggression, which disrespects others; and from passivity, which disrespects yourself. If you are passive-aggressive, you disrespect both yourself and those around you.  The benefit of developing an Executive Presence is that you show up like you belong.

Any tips on developing executive presence for women leaders?

Truly believe in your abilities and experiences. Do not invalidate yourself or diminish your power.

In order to be anointed as a leader, you first have to be perceived as one.

If you don’t believe you have that presence when you’re in a meeting, when you’re presenting, when you’re interacting with others, it’s going to be difficult for anyone to be influenced or persuaded by you.

They’re still going to doubt that you’re that leader that I want to work with, that I want to listen to, that I want to role model and that I want to learn from.

The secret of executive presence for women, in many ways, is the same as it is for men…

  • It is displaying your authenticity, your motivations and inspirations, and living them.
  • It involves speaking the truth with assertiveness and not aggressiveness.
  • It involves showing up at your authentic best, being present in the moment, and communicating challenges to your immediate loved ones and your teams to overcome challenges to be the best versions of ourselves.

Are you a woman leader ready to build your executive presence?

At Corporate Class, our expert facilitators provide in-person and live online leadership and executive presence training for women. Learn more about our Individual Training programs or get in touch with us to host a customized Business Workshop.

You can also master your Executive Presence skills with CCI’s Online Self-Paced Leadership Presence System!
leadership presence training program

What is Executive Presence Training (And Why it Matters More Than Ever in 2021)

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.

Master your executive presence skills with CCI’s Online Self-Paced Leadership Presence System!

leadership presence training program