Executive presence inspires confidence from people. Individuals with leaders who have executive presence are more productive because they trust and respect their leader. There are different facets of executive presence.
The foundation of which are performance, integrity and business acumen. People expect their leaders to also demonstrate gravitas, great communication skills and respectable image. But, is executive presence still relevant in the new normal?
We asked Ms. Luz Mercurio, our resource person on leadership, to share some insights on what adjustments leaders would have to make.
In the new normal where leadership presence goes beyond face to face interaction, there are facets that are more meaningful to people who execute what leaders want them to do.
When a leader enters the room, gravitas is experienced by people thru his or her general demeanor. As the leader talks, the depth of personality is very much felt and makes people ‘gravitate’ towards him/her, ready to listen with respect. From face to face presence to virtual presence, the dynamics may change.
For gravitas to be experienced online, a leader may be required to harness a set of skills particularly in managing technology, such as knowing the basics of Zoom or Google meet, to maintain credibility and trust.
Leaders who are eloquent and very comfortable in speaking to an audience in a physical room may need to do some major adjustments. The tone, pace and non- verbal skills must fit the virtual platform being used. I have encountered a lot of great leaders struggling to communicate effectively while looking at the computer camera instead of the eyes of the audience in a face to face environment.
For face to face, one has to be conscious of the total image projected from head to foot. The appropriate clothes, the proper gait and purposeful body language should attract positive impact.
For virtual presence, a leader must be more conscious of the area that can be covered by the camera. Image enhancements should be concentrated on the face, the shoulders and the hands. Proper lighting also helps project a professional image. Even the background behind you should be considered as part of the total image as projected on screen in virtual meetings or presentations.
Executive presence, whether it be face to face or online, is very much needed by any leader who wants to create a great impact on people he/she wants to influence. In the new normal where people cannot easily arrange a face to face encounter and get guidance from the leader, some leadership traits need to dial up.
These are empathy (leaders must be more visible even virtually and be felt as really listening with compassion), agility (leaders should be seen to pivot strategies fast and be able to influence others to pivot as quickly as possible) and grit (leaders should rally people to persevere amidst an ambiguous environment).
The new normal has challenged great leaders to master a new skill set to demonstrate executive presence and maintain positive influence to people who work with them and for them. The sooner they learn how to leverage technology the greater the probability to gain remarkable impact in forging their organization to achieve greater heights with people who believe, respect and trust them throughout the journey.