What's Your EP?

Last week I participated in a new online digital platform with leaders from the Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association.

 Many times when we’re in career or job transition,  we can use a quick tip, a shout of encouragement or a gentle reminder of our natural talents.  You are already enough!

I wrote this post to bring more awareness to your natural ability to exude EP.

 It’s not EQ, its EP. It’s one of those leadership qualities you can’t define but you know it when you see it. It can be a highly nuanced communication style, subtle and refined or it can be charismatic, visionary and colorful.

 It’s called executive presence.

 Here’s the thing: nobody is born with executive presence and we know hard work is certainly key to succeed. But you can — and should  - cultivate a top-notch professional image to get ahead in your career.

 You need excellent verbal and nonverbal communications skills to exhibit EP according to Julie Kelly, VP, Client Strategy/Account Management at TeleRx, who recently led an online panel with the Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association.

Communication skills create perceptions, and perceptions influence how others feel about you as a leader. Your leadership and EP is just as much about bringing others along, and communicating in a way that is clear and concise so others feel your confidence and will follow you.   The more you move up in an organization, the more these abilities will be in the spotlight.

Based on a nationwide survey of college graduates working across a range of sectors and occupations, Sylvia Hewlett, author of EP, and the Center for Talent Innovation discovered that EP is indeed a dynamic, cohesive mix of skills. Beyond excellent communication skills, appearance, and gravitas matter. While these elements are not equal, to have true EP, you must know how to use all of them to your advantage.

 Appearance includes not just clothing, but self-awareness in understanding how we appear to others. For example, someone with EP walks with a relaxed confidence, standing tall, shoulders back. All of their nonverbal cues say, “I got this. Everything is good on my watch. And, there’s nothing I would rather do”.

Aspects of gravitas include confidence and grace under fire, decisiveness, integrity, emotional intelligence, reputation, and vision/charisma.

Executives who have a strong executive presence also show initiative. Leaders don’t wait for someone to tell them what to do: When they see something needs to get done, they do it or figure out a plan for getting it done.

 What should you do to embody presence as a leader? According to Amy Cuddy, author of Presence, it’s our ability to be self-aware that guides us. As she explains it, we don't need to embark on a grand spiritual quest or complete an inner transformation to harness the power of presence. Instead, we need to nudge ourselves, moment by moment, by tweaking our body language, behavior, and mind-set in our day-to-day lives. Now when is the last time you gave a yourself a nudge to focus on your presence?