Do you want to gain access to more career opportunities? Then you need to be able to inspire confidence in others. Confidence that you have what it takes to lead and that you will deliver great results. You will be evaluated based on your substance – your experience, skills and expertise. But substance alone may not be enough to propel you forward. You also need to demonstrate executive presence through the way show up, interact and communicate.
Many aspiring leaders who I coach have not consciously thought about their personal brand and executive presence. Not until they receive some harsh feedback, or don’t get the promotion they expected. Others are aware of the importance of having gravitas and presence, but struggle to articulate what sets them apart.
Being intentional and proactive about your personal brand
Let’s be clear, you already have a personal brand. Based on their experience with you, your colleagues and clients have formed an idea of your persona, your style and your abilities. The question is whether this incidental brand or reputation is serving you or getting in your way. And instead of passively accepting a brand assigned to you by others, what about being intentional and proactive about your personal brand and presence?
Being clear on who you are and what you stand for helps you pinpoint your unique selling point and what you want to be known for in your professional community.
Defining your personal brand
Take a step back and consider the following questions:
- What do you stand for? What are your values?
- Whom do you serve? What is your purpose?
- What is your big idea or vision?
- What are your strengths? What is your passion?
- What are your personal qualities?
- What is the experience you deliver to other? What is your leadership style?
- How would you like to be described by others?
Take a look at your answers and highlight what makes you stand out from the crowd. Picking the elements that sum you up, describe yourself in a few sentences. Use simple words and a language that is authentic to you.
Executive presence: delivering on your personal brand
Now, it’s not enough to be able to give an elevator pitch or articulate your brand on paper. The proof is as always in the proverbial pudding – how other people experience you. How do you show up, interact and communicate? How do you make people feel? In other words, what is your executive presence like? If your personal brand is your distinction, your executive presence is the way you express and embody that distinction.
Looking at the personal brand you want to create and maintain, what are the actual, observable behaviours you will need to demonstrate? How well are you currently doing? Getting feedback from peers and friends is a great way of understanding how you are perceived and what you may want to do differently.
Being mindful about your brand and your presence is ongoing work – it never stops. Setting your intention, building awareness through feedback, and adjusting behaviours when needed requires commitment, courage and patience.
It’s not about you – it’s about others
Finally, personal branding can become a self-indulgent, self-promoting exercise. We can all think of cases where this is true. See it instead as a way to articulate the positive impact you want to have in the world and how you want to achieve that impact. Then it can be a powerful tool to help you make choices and remind you how you want to be with other people. Because executive presence is not about you – it is about how you inspire and positively influence others.