As an executive, you need to have a commanding presence. You need people to look up to you and to listen to you. And that can be hard. Everyone has issues when becoming an executive; perhaps you’re soft-hearted or perhaps people just don’t take you seriously. If you’re young, for instance, it could be that people find it hard to believe that you have such a significant role in your company.
All this can be countered by developing an executive presence. An executive presence is a combination of factors: physical appearance, body language, and even the words you use. Let’s take a deeper look.
Getting a Wardrobe Adjustment
Let’s say you’re a young executive and your clothes, well, they don’t quite fit. Perhaps you purchased your clothes a long time ago and they’re just a little too large; they aren’t tailored to fit. This will only make you seem younger, “a kid wearing their mom/dad’s suit.”
Wardrobe matters more than a lot of people think. If you’re a high-powered executive mostly focused on success, it makes sense that you might not be paying attention to what you wear.
But think about Steve Jobs and that iconic black turtleneck. Depending on what industry you’re in, wardrobe can matter.
A wardrobe audit goes through your wardrobe and determines what items you need and what items work best for you. The goal isn’t to totally overwrite your existing style, but to find things that really appeal to you while still making you appear competent, confident, and professional.
Often, people find that they carry themselves differently when they’re wearing a nice suit, and they tend to actually feel more confident in addition to looking more professional. This can come down to color as well as style; color palettes and color psychology does matter, in terms of brand and image.
But before you start working with an image consultant, you should know exactly what look you’re going for. Think about the things that you love most about yourself and the things that make you a great executive. Are you an intuitive empathy? Are you an out-of-the-box thinker? Or are you a stable, reliable person who will get the job done day after day?
The better you know yourself, the easier it will be to develop your executive presence. You can’t inspire trust in yourself if you don’t trust yourself.
Body Language and Tone
In addition to what you wear, you also need to have the right body language. There are certain styles of body language that portray confidence, such as standing tall. There are things that can make you seem “closed off,” like crossing your legs.
Many executives and even sales professionals practice mirroring. You use the same body language as the person in front of you in order to inspire confidence and rapport. People tend to like others who behave like them.
An image consultant will help you with your body language and tone, giving you more to build on. If you want to feel confident and inspiring, you’ll need a more open language. You may need to be more bombastic with your movements.
Have you ever had someone walk into the room and be immediately in charge? Or have you met someone who was “larger than life”? These people are people who have mastered the art of language and tone. Luckily, this is a skill that you can both practice and learn.
A decade or so ago, this wasn’t that important. But today, it absolutely is. People look you up on social media, especially LinkedIn. Your executive presence absolutely extends to the digital realm.
Part of getting an image consultant is going over your social media presence and ensuring that your social media presence is as professional as your physical presence. You never know when the past could come back to haunt you.
And it might not be something that you expect. A photograph of you on vacation 5 years ago could circulate of you being, “on vacation while working right now.” You have to be very careful about what you post so it’s never taken out of context.
Developing an Executive Presence
There’s a lot of work that goes into developing an executive presence, from your wardrobe to your social media. Often, it’s more work than a single person can do themselves and it isn’t always easy to see the way that another party sees you.
Because of this, you might want to consider hiring a professional. A professional can help “audit” your wardrobe, mannerisms, and social media, to ensure that you’re projecting the image that you want to.
Not every executive is the same and there’s no universal “executive presence.” The core issue is that different industries matter. If you’re an executive in real estate or oil and gas, you probably want to be very professional. If you’re running a startup in the tech industry, you may need ot be a little more modern.
At the end of the day, an executive presence is part of your overall branding strategy. Like a product, you need to know what you’re about, what your core mission is, and what your values are. Once you know more about the image that you want to project, an image consultant can help you achieve it.
Want to learn more about how an image consultant can help you? Contact the experts at the London Image Institute.