One of the areas I always pay close attention to is knowing what skills I need to work on next to be a better version of my self.
I recently realized for driving more impact at work and in the community, I need to work on my executive language and know how to communicate with C levels.
During my search and after speaking with my mentors/colleagues at work I came across a Developing Executive Presence course by John Ullmen, PhD, a professor from the UCLA Anderson School of Management.
The course is about the four key factors that drive executive presence.
- Perspective (Thinking factor)
- Poise (Emotional factors)
- Projection (action factors)
I'm gathering the key points, questions and my personal views and answers as I'm going through the course. It's a live post and I keep updating its content.
"The foundation of executive presence is a passion to make a positive difference for others"
What do you feel most strongly about how things can be better for others? What really resonates with you based on your own life experiences?
I grew up in a developing country with a strongly male-dominated culture. I always wanted to change it, especially after I saw/felt some injustice first hand.
When I was a teenager and during my 20s, I believed to fight injustice, you need to have financial freedom. You need to make sure you earn enough to be able to live independently. I was lucky enough to have the support of my family and have my dad as my mentor to persuade me toward a rewarding career path. I was lucky enough to study software engineering at university and met the love of my life while I was in uni.
After graduating from uni, Harry and I with few friends started our own business and had our start-up for five years. For financial and some personal reasons we decided to close the company. We got offers at different companies and you might not be surprised to know although Harry and I had exactly similar experience and skill set. Harry's salary was two times more than mine! Another fact to add to this equation is I had a bachelor degree while harry had an Associate degree in software engineering.
At the time I wasn't upset, I was thinking it's the norm! Then I accidentally caught in a conversation with a few female colleagues and find out they are getting paid half of my salary! It was absurd!
My assumption was It happened because they weren't aware of the market salary range[specifically for males] and some knowledge gaps and lack of confidence.
That was a spark and made me start thinking about how can I help my female colleagues to grow in their career so at least they get paid similar to my wage! How can I be better so I can ask for raise and close my salary gap to my male colleagues!
For a while, I was looking at how can I earn more! What should I learn and what I need to do to increase my compensation plan! I still do but with a different lens!
Since I was a little girl, I was puzzled why there is a massive difference in the number of people attending female and male funerals! Even their funeral notices were different. For most females on the funeral notice, it was saying "loving wife and mother" and for males, it had their job title or status and the impact they had in the community! How can I be sure when I die, hundreds of people coming to my funeral? I remember I asked my dad. His answer was if you work hard and be nice to people you will have it!
I can summarise my passions are
1- Creating a pleasant environment for everyone to grow and feel fulfilment!
2- Solving business problems by utilising collective intelligence with minimum cost and effort
Perspective (Thinking Factor)
The second factor is the perspective (Effective thinking patterns). People with executive presence, take a broader perspective beyond their personal concerns and nearsighted responses. They have perspective. They're fully engaged in the here and now while also attentive to possibilities and opportunities ahead in time and across stakeholders.
There are three categories of thinking patterns
1- Thinking about yourself
2- Thinking about others
3- Getting things done
To achieve executive presence we need to ace all of these three categories by replacing low presence thinking patterns with high presence alternatives
Thinking about yourself:
- Rumination(worrying too much) vs Focus on controllable
- Self-defeating self-talk vs Focus on your purpose
- Need to be correct vs Need to be effective
- Finding mistakes and faults vs look for the best in imperfect people
- People are with me or against me vs treat people with respect and dignity even if they are against me
- Take things personally vs take things purposefully
- Focusing on who is in the room vs mindful of all stakeholders
- I listen for what effects my agenda and I evaluate based on my interests vs pay attention to what people don't say too, and what that means
- Focus almost exclusively on getting results vs focus on going for great results in ways that also strengthen my relationships and reputation
- Focus on what's urgent vs stay on track, on purpose, on the top priorities
- Focus on showing what I know vs focus on bringing out the best that everyone here knows, including me.
Poise (Emotional Factor)
Whatever you're doing, meetings, presentations, discussions, strive to start with your best emotional state. Knowing you're doing something so fundamentally worthwhile is itself a source of strong positive feeling and you automatically feel excellent. You're going for something great, you're putting yourself in situations to make progress on something you know with your deepest core conviction is valuable and meaningful. That's the emotional presence to bring at the beginning of things.
Projection (Action factors)
- Posture: Adjust your posture even before the meeting starts.
- Movement and gesture: Move with purpose, use your hand gestures in sync with the points
- Facial expression: Show Emotion consistent with your purpose, avoid highly extreme emotions that may move your face into an unnatural and unattractive shape or position (anger, surprise,...)
- Eye contact and connect with people
- Appearance, dress in a way that adds your credibility and doesn't distract attention
- Speak Decisively (Express clear point of view when you want to weigh in on a topic, be ready to speak at beginning and end to make a first and last impression)
- Support your viewpoints with facts and data
- Respond when challenged (don't be defensive but when you are in the spotlight don't go silent. be ready, be clear and be on-point)
- Admit you are wrong with Strenght(Say Thank you with confidence when you corrected. You are going for truth and not self-interest! Don't over apologize. say, "You are right about that, thanks for pointing that out", then move on)
- Stay on course, stay close to what matters most.
- Keep it simple
- Be concise
- Engage others with Kudos and Questions, give others space to speak and encourage diverse viewpoints, ask thoughtful questions
- Align your pitch, Pace and Tone
- Speak with Volume, speak from your diaphragm