Leadership

3 top ways to portray executive presence

The Office, episode 602
NBC | Getty Images
The Office, episode 602

You are gathered around a table with your coworkers in the conference room, waiting for a meeting to start. From the moment your manager walks through the door to the end of his or her presentation, your eyes and attention are locked in. The secret to how your boss commanded the room's attention is a trait called "executive presence."

"Executive presence is the combination of behaviors and attitudes that enable you to clearly and confidently express your ideas and influence others," according to leadership development and executing coaching firm SHAMBAUGH.

Even senior executives believe this special trait accounts for just over a quarter of (26%) what it takes for an employee to get promoted, according to research from the Center for Talent Innovation.

Although some may think they don't have what it takes to be a boss, career and professional development expert Jeff Black says being an influential leader is more than just working harder.

"We live in a world today where we want to follow leaders who just instill confidence in us even in very difficult and uncertain times," Black says

Here are three key ways Black says you can portray executive presence.

Be a strong communicator

Black, founder of communications consulting firm Black Sheep, tells CNBC that leaders need to be solid speakers day in and day out — not just when they have to go onstage for big presentations.

Whether you are in front of one person or a room full of dozens or hundreds of people, Black says you have to be an engaging storyteller. In the workplace, one should be "able to communicate the vision of the company in very simple ways, without a lot of company jargon," he adds.

Strong communicators can also tell profound stories and make themselves vulnerable, which allows others to more easily establish a personal connection.

This will make employees want to follow your lead and give their best every day when going to work, Black says.

Slow down by 10%

There is no statistical reason behind that number, Black says, but it's easy to imagine how slowing down how you walk, speak and think will help you perform better as a leader.

"We just live in a nonstop world today and people need to slow down. It will enhance their executive presence and their confidence," Black says.

Effective leaders should, in turn, come off as calm, approachable and in control as they can.

He also says if you are in a meeting or rushing around from office to office, taking a moment to gather your thoughts will help you give clearer, more confident responses.

"[This allows you] to defend your issue or to make your case in a stronger way because you are not in a hurry in your head," Black says.

Maintain a professional appearance

Part of having executive presence is dressing the part, says Black. Notably, a recent survey by staffing service OfficeTeam shows that nearly half of professionals are unsure about what clothing is office-appropriate.

"Even in our very casual business climate today there still has to be a level of professionalism in your professional appearance," Black says.

He says you don't need to necessarily dress formally for a meeting, but if you have an active role in it, you should dress up slightly.

"There's just a professional edge and polish when [do] you that," Black says.

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