Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The C-Span of Executive Presence

It's time to take the mystery out of executive presence.

In the age of Twitter, where simpler is often seen as better, finding a straightforward way to understand and display this behavior is key to not only surviving, but succeeding in this difficult job market.

For some mystical reasons, executive presence can best be described by a host of adjectives that start with the third letter of the alphabet.

It's probably a coincidence.

The "C" words

The basic "C-span" of executive presence is made up of the following nine characteristics:

1. Calm

2. Candid

3. Charismatic

4. Committed

5. Compassionate

6. Confident

7. Connected

8. Contemplative

9. Courageous

Lack of any of these qualities can significantly diminish the degree and/or the existence of executive presence. Working with executives has taught me that executive presence can be learned, improved on and mastered, we're not born with it.

If you're curious as to whether you have executive presence, ask others to rate your "C-span" using a 0-5 scale. Strive for perfection ... second best usually won't get or keep that coveted job.

C-span equals employability

In the current job market, where just being able to hang onto your position is an everyday effort, displaying executive presence is vital.

I’ve written about this topic before and, even prior to the market shedding millions of jobs, displaying executive presence was an important ingredient in both landing a job and moving up the corporate ladder.

These days however, when massive layoffs have resulted in an unprecedented number of available executives and created the biggest buyer’s market employers have enjoyed in decades, executive presence is often the dealbreaker ... or dealmaker.

Competition is fiercer, challenges are greater and opportunities for C-suite positions are fewer.

Learn by doing

Developing executive presence has become an industry of its own. There are countless books, workshops and articles designed to give leaders what's been described as a hard-to-define quality. Consultants, coaches and even "image" specialists have emerged eager to help individuals exude the aura of executive presence.

It need not be complicated. "C-span" is simple and measurable ... people who solidly project all nine "C's" have executive presence. The higher the "C-span" rating, the greater the executive presence.

And there's no confusion in "C-span."

The usual first step ... identify an individual that exemplifies executive presence, use them as a model and emulate their behavior. Look at your local landscape and find those who best demonstrate it in their day-to-day activities.

Should you need to extend your search, it’s hard to argue that our current President, no matter what your politics, seems to have all the components of executive presence down pat. Barack Obama has even gone beyond the normal definition of "C-span" ... he's added another "C" to the mix and appears to be universally regarded as "cool."

Ever consider how much of a part executive presence played in his landing the job?

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