All too often, we are unconscious of our own behaviors. If you do not consciously act like the leader you believe you are, you confuse people and send messages which are easily misinterpreted.
Author Kristi Hedges provides practical exercises for improving your presence in The Power of Presence: Unlock Your Potential to Influence and Engage Others (Amacom, 2012). She writes about two equally important types of actions which affect people’s perceptions:
- Micro-actions: your body language, facial expressions, and tone of voice.
- Macro-actions: how you spend your time and energy, what you do, priorities and consistency.
Authenticity plays a key role. It’s not about taking a certain power posture or using body language techniques or a commanding tone. The best way to improve your micro- and macro-actions for executive presence is to focus on your intentions and allow your body to relax.
When we are trying to decide if we trust someone, body language and voice play serious roles. Humans are intuitive and most of us pick up on cues like poor eye contact and shakiness that indicate a lack of authenticity.
When you’re comfortable and sincere, your micro-actions align and you naturally project confidence. Unfortunately, in high-stress situations and difficult conversations, our bodies and voices give way to nervous reactions that can undermine a relaxed composure and send the wrong message.
But that doesn’t mean we can’t keep our actions aligned with our best intentions. We are not helpless, even when we suffer nervousness that could possibly affect our presence.
In the work I do coaching leaders, we work on both micro- and macro-actions that create strong executive presence. There are several things anyone can learn to do to reinforce trust and credibility through posture, voice, and non-verbal expressions.
In my next post, I’ll give you a checklist for aligning your intentions with your actions for a better presence. In the meantime, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this; you can contact me here or on LinkedIn.