If you are in the C-Suite, a Vice President, or a Director level executive, then you know that the game at the top of the house has gotten a lot tougher. The marketplace is volatile—peers change, bosses change, customers change. You need to be able to adapt to these rapid changes, and build relationships and alliances quickly to get things done. There’s pressure to make decisions faster, help your people contribute at their highest level, reduce costs and do more with less. You need to make a powerful impact that connects with your many audiences.
Usually when executives are faced with this challenge, they decide to further develop their leadership skills. So they take an assortment of leadership courses, or they may even hire an executive coach to work on enhancing their leadership skills. All of this is useful; particularly when the focus is on the more senior executive leadership skills such as vision development, strategy and team execution. However, this approach is missing a key element.
Executive skill development alone is the old leadership paradigm. It is insufficient. The new leadership paradigm goes far beyond skill development to focus on leading and influencing people at a much deeper level. The new leadership paradigm is combining higher level leadership skills with the strategic use of your leadership presence. Skill development is a good start. However, it is not enough for today’s complex business challenges. The most strategic tool you have is not a skill; it’s your presence.
If you are only focusing on enhancing your leadership skills, then you’re missing a significant piece of the puzzle for executive success. To succeed today, it’s your presence not just your skill or your authority that gets things done. Presence is your way of carrying yourself, your way of being; and presence is much more than the old definition of good oral presentation skills and body language. Presence is an inner strength that influences, even inspires people to follow and succeed. People feel your presence, even if they can’t articulate what they feel.
When you design a positive powerful way of being, your presence motivates your peers to collaborate with you and your customers to buy from you. Your leadership presence, that feeling people get when you walk into the meeting, influences employee engagement, workplace innovation and top talent retention. And, ultimately, it is your presence, not just your skills, that allows you to make the positive impact on bottom-line results.
In our changed world, your long term survival as a leader requires constantly asking the question: How do I create value as a senior leader? Think about the people who have added value to you, influenced you, in your life. Who was it? A great Boss? Teacher? Coach? Parent? Mentor? They all have at least one thing in common – a strong presence: the ability to inspire you (and others) to work harder and smarter, think deeper, innovate and change.
Some may say: “But presence or charisma is vague; you have to be born with it; you can’t really develop it.” We need to break that myth. By coaching successful leaders for over 15 years, I have developed a six-part model for the new leadership paradigm. The Influence Puzzle® Model walks a leader through six practices; six ways of being that develop a powerful leadership presence. The Influence Puzzle® Model demystifies the old concept of charisma, and gives you specific practices so that you can maximize your leadership presence.
If you still believe that leadership skills alone will get you where you want to be, then you may never achieve all that you could be. Executive effectiveness in this business environment requires a much deeper level of development – one that goes beyond traditional executive development. Success today requires a thorough exploration of how your own personal presence drives results.