Powerful presence is, after all, the best version of you. Whether it’s leadership, presence or well-being, I see personal mastery from an inside-out approach. This is where the work on the inside really comes into play.
You can’t fake your way to executive presence. It’s who you are, not what you say or do. I believe in making the shift from skills and competence (the “what”) to character and identity (the “who”) for executive presence.
In this article, I will help you understand how to build a powerful presence that’s unique to you, and that serves you well by embracing three things.
We often talk about the importance of self-awareness and being in alignment with your core to make sure that how you project is who you truly are. I would like to share 3 must haves in your inner presence before you build and enhance your outer presence.
Awareness is nothing but a foundational willingness to be self-reflective. It’s the first step in your presence journey. It’s all about knowing and understanding who you are at the core.
Know thyself: Awareness enables you to know who you are, what really matters to you; what you don’t like to compromise on; what you stand for; what you believe about yourself, your work, people or the world in general.
It’s about getting clarity on your unique strengths, capabilities and talent, and what you can offer to the world. It is about understanding who you are as a leader and how you come across to others.
The other important aspect is to have a deep understanding of your actions and behaviour. Most of the time, we do not even know what we are doing and why we are doing it.
Also, we are not fully aware about how we come across in a meeting or while giving a presentation. We are not mindful about how we look, how we smile, or our emotions behind our words.
The key to enhance your presence and influence is to be aware of what you do and your impact on others.
There are times when your mind says something, and your heart says something else. You feel stuck because of an internal conflict. That is the state of not being aligned. Presence requires you projecting your integrated being to the world. People respect a leader who walks his talk. I personally preach only what I practice myself. I feel I don’t have the right to talk about something that I don’t practice in my own life.
Alignment means when your personality is aligned with your character; when your vision, mission and values are aligned. Once you do the inner work, who you are is reflected in your behaviour and communication and you earn respect
A strong Executive Presence aligns the inner self with the outer expression.
- Are your beliefs, values, and principles reflected in your behavior?
- Are you honest with yourself and others about your limitations?
- Are you empathetic and able to show vulnerability and humility to others?
Presence is when all your senses agree on one thing at the same time.
—Majid, United Arab Emirates
In order for you to feel truly present, the various elements of the self—emotions, thoughts, physical and facial expressions, behaviors—must be in harmony, a state of alignment. If our actions aren’t consistent with our values, we won’t feel that we’re being true to ourselves. If our emotions aren’t reflected in our physical expressions, we don’t feel real.
Carl Jung believed that the most important process in human development was integrating the different parts of the self—the conscious with the unconscious.
Being authentic is important in every situation no matter the context. But when it comes to influencing, persuasion, and leadership, it matters even more because your persona must be seen as believable to inspire others. The key to building trust, authority and credibility is your ability to be authentic. Leaders who are genuinely open and transparent, are respected and trusted by their teams.
I firmly believe that Presence must be carefully balanced with a strong sense of acceptance of who you are at your core —your authentic self.
But what exactly does it mean to be true to yourself?
- Is it what your friends have in mind when they encourage you to “just be yourself”?
- Is it the feeling we have when we’re “being real”?
- Can we expect to be the same person, in every circumstance, at every moment?
- How many selves are in there, and how is it determined which one we choose to express?
The authentic self is an experience—a state, not a trait; the experience of knowing and feeling that you’re being your most sincere and courageous self; when you freely express your values through your actions. It comes and goes, but we recognize it because it “feels right.”
Authenticity is when you don’t hide yourself behind your position, title, status, power, wealth. Authentic presence is a delicate balancing act of being true to yourself while being considerate and compassionate towards others. Your intent is reflected in your authenticity.
Presence stems from believing our own stories. When we don’t believe our stories, we are inauthentic—we are deceiving, in a way, both ourselves and others. And this self-deception is, it turns out, observable to others as our confidence wanes and our verbal and nonverbal behaviors become incongruent.
Having executive presence is not about bragging, but an authentic expression of your inner, best self. Become your best version without worrying about appearing to be someone else.
Unless you love, accept and respect every part of yourself, you will not let your authentic self emerge. Until you are putting your energies in hiding some parts from the world and showcasing certain parts, you cannot project executive presence.
When leaders are fully aligned with who they are, with authenticity, they draw more deeply on their intuition, awareness, and energy field to lead with power and impact.