Executive presence is an essential element of effective leadership according to Muriel Maignan Wilkins and Amy Jen Su, co-authors of Own the Room: Discover Your Signature Voice to Master Your Leadership Presence. Wilkins spoke recently with Tom Fox, guest writer for On Leadership, about how federal leaders can develop their own authentic executive presence. Fox is vice president for leadership and innovation at the nonprofit Partnership for Public Service and heads up their Center for Government Leadership. Wilkins and Su are co-founders of Isis Associates, an executive coaching and training firm.
Executive presence is a buzz word that's been used with increasing frequency these days. What does it mean to you?
Leadership presence is really the ability to do two things very well. The first is to demonstrate your value, whether to one person or to hundreds of thousands of people, in an authentic way. The second is to connect well with your stakeholders. It means being authentic, comfortable in your skin, and getting your message across while connecting with those around you. That's leadership presence.
What are some common myths surrounding the concept of leadership presence?
The first is the myth of "you are who you are," meaning that people who have presence are people who are naturally born with it. We've proven in our work that this is not true. Having leadership presence is really about being adaptable and catering your style to the situation that you're in. The second myth is the idea that leadership presence looks only one way. People end up mimicking the leaders of their organizations and faking it rather than being authentic.