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Understanding Leadership & Executive Presence

Leaders are faced with dealing with change and transition ahead in our workplace. For those folks who manage people and supervise others, how you show up and lead your teams impacts performance and outcomes in your organization. Regardless of where you work or who you lead, there comes a point in where you need to stop and evaluate if how you are leading is effective or if your leadership style needs to change.

Future success is rarely built on the same platform as one’s past accomplishments.”

Su & Wilkins, Own the Room: Discover Your Signature Voice to Master Your Leadership Presence.

As I begin to work with executive coaching clients, it’s been helpful to tap into coaching+leadership resources (Note: I recommend the Coaching Real Leaders podcast to coaches & leaders) to learn more about what it means to bring coaching skills to the workplace.

Image by Miguel Á. Padriñán from Pixabay

In thinking about presence and voice, I was really struck by the value proposition concepts and finding your signature voice exercises Amy Jen Su and Muriel Wilkins share Own the Room. As a leader in any organization and at any level, I think this book looks at leadership as a supervisor, mentor, and/or a peer.

Do you know how to own a room?

This might involve the energy and viewpoint you bring, to the perceptions and realities of how others see you. Ownership of your own skills really show up in terms of how we think, act, and poise. Su and Wilkins (2013) identify ways to “own the room” by examining your own mindset, skills, and body language represented by a leader’s:

  • Assumptions
  • Communication Strategies
  • Energy

As a manager or supervisor, it is important to ask your team members questions as you listen and learn about their needs; however, it is also, critical that you ask yourself a few coaching questions to understand how you are showing up at work (Su & Wilkins, 2013):

  1. What message are you sending with your current presence?
  2. How can you improve your leadership presence in an authentic way?
  3. What should you do first?
  4. How do you deal with specific situations where (when) your presence is being challenged?
  5. How do you know if you are making any progress?

By assessing your own presence as a leader first, you are able to identify how your skills support others and get feedback for what might be missing with your approach. You are not “born with it” — as presence for any leader can and should be developed. In coaching leaders, we begin to unpack communication and understand more about how they show up to their team, supervisor, and within the organization. What is most critical for this reflection and introspection is to identify what a leader believes to be true in contrast to how others perceive the leader’s actions and attitudes — really to understand the balance between these two perspectives. What is good to know is, there is not a single way to show up as a leader. Executive presence should be defined and grown by each leader. It’s really about asking:

How are you assessing your own leadership style? In what ways are you developing and growing your executive presence? How do you want to “own the room” at work?

Reference: Su, A. J., & Wilkins, M. M. (2013). Own the room: Discover your signature voice to master your leadership presence. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Business Review Press.

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