When I teach the From Vision to Action Leadership Training, we routinely discuss what it takes to be an excellent leader. During these conversations, I point out that the best leaders lead with executive presence. In the beginning, this means being more self-aware of your appearance, words, and body language because each is sending a message about what you believe and what you think is most important.
However, upon reflection, executive presence is greater than just self-awareness. It means being confident and calm in spite of external circumstances. It also means having inner clarity, which will create confidence in others to follow, rather than external ego.
Leading with presence starts by showing up and being clear on the inside. Then, giving our complete attention to those who are present, and being present when you do it. We need to recognize that people read your reactions and your actions very carefully, not just your words.
First, to get better at leading with executive presence, we must schedule regular time to pause and reflect. Leaders from my experience are becoming more and more “junkies” to external stimulation. The faster we go, the more we need to slow down and reflect. Many problems can not be solved by pushing harder and thinking harder. Believe it or not, when I am stumped, I often will mow the grass, pull weeds, sweep the sidewalk, or shovel snow. Nine times our of ten, then the answer comes. I quiet the mind and the solution surfaces. This is the third law of thermodynamics, i.e. as activity decreases, order increases.
Second, to get better at leading with executive presence, we need to commit to a personal mastery approach to leadership and leading. This means we must be willing to be a constant beginner. We need to recognize that the best leaders are constantly learning. It is a positive addiction for them.
This week, pause and reflect more on your choices. There is always more to learn.