Cathy Lange leads Human Capital Advisor's leadership coaching practice.
There are some people who command a room simply by entering it. There's a look, an air of confidence that signals to others that this is a person of stature, of importance.
Some call it "executive presence," and it is not easy to command by merely dressing the part, though that's important. And it is most certainly not when someone overpowers a room by being loud or creating a commotion. In fact, a strong executive presence requires qualities that may surprise you. Executive presence is inextricably linked to effective leadership so that a leader needs to understand it.
What is it?
Strong leaders frequently emit an aura - that "x" factor that people notice and are influenced by. This aura is often referred to as "executive presence."
"Executive presence is substantially about self-confidence. Such an executive projects a calm, steady demeanor - someone who is warm and cordial, but not a back slapper," says HCA CEO Ted Bruccoleri. "They are good listeners, perceptive and articulate, speaking in clear and direct ways. They are supremely self-assured, but their confidence is displayed in a quiet more nuanced way,"
HCA Partner Cathy Lange, who heads the firm's executive coaching practice, says, "Executive presence is achieved by building a rapport with colleagues and gaining their trust. And an important part of that is effective communication."
It's not simply an issue of how to present to a large group. More important may be the ability to connect with people one on one. That's where the effective listening comes in. You need to read your audience, especially an audience of one. Understand how they communicate and how they might react to what you say.
Other Important Tips
When you do speak, be mindful of today's phenomena of shorter attention spans. People want to understand the gist of what you have to say, and the best way to do that is to be brief and concise. To be compelling you needn't be overpowering. You should have key facts ready to support your ideas but don't spill them out all at once. And when you are challenged, you must remain cool and collected.
Think and present strategically. When making a case for an initiative, link your organization's strategic goals to the matter at hand. Cite facts but not too many. Most importantly, detail the expected return on investment, and above all, tell a story.
And remember that being assertive does not mean being aggressive. When trying to persuade people, you must have and exhibit your emotional intelligence.
"Make a decision in advance on how you want to be perceived," says Lange. "When talking, remember to stop, breathe, think and then act."
First Impression Counts
Physical appearance and behavior may sound shallow, but initial impressions are undeniably critical to the image someone establishes. Here's what to do and not do in smaller encounters, according to Forbes magazine:
Improving your Presence
Steps for self-improvement:
And, finally, research articles and books. "One of the most important books on executive presence," says Lange, "is Managing the Moment: A Leader's Guide to Building Executive Presence One Introduction at a Time by Lisa Parker.
In the end, mastering the art of executive presence is as much about how you relate to people as it is what you say. Inspiring others with a steady, sincere and empathetic demeanor defines great and memorable leadership.
To learn more about Human Capital Advisors, visit their website, or email Cathy Lange.
NAEYC and KaBOOM! Discuss the Importance of Play in Education & Cities
To read the full interview click here.
The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and KaBOOM! are working together to help kids get the balanced and active play they need to thrive. Rhian Evans Allvin, Executive Director of NAEYC, and Darell Hammond, Founder and CEO of KaBOOM!, discuss the importance of play in education and the positive impact it has on communities.
Why is play important to education?
Allvin: Neuroscience has confirmed that the period from birth to age 5 includes rapid brain development–setting the foundation for cognitive, social/emotional, language and motor skills. In order to achieve the academic excellence and equity that is essential–we must invest in our children during this window of explosive development.
Children engage in various kinds of play providing opportunities to develop physical competence, enjoyment of the outdoors, comprehension of their world, interaction with others, emotional expression and control, development of their symbolic and problem-solving abilities, and practice emerging skills. Research shows correlations between play and foundational capacities such as memory, self-regulation, oral language abilities, social skills, and success in school.
From infancy, children act on the world around them for the pleasure of seeing what happens. Around age 2, children begin to demonstrate symbolic use of objects. By the age of 3-5 they may act out specific roles. Such play is influential in developing self-regulation, as children are highly motivated to stick to the roles and rules of the play, grow in the ability to inhibit their impulses, and act in coordination with others. High-level dramatic play produces documented cognitive, social, and emotional benefits.
Hammond: Critical thinking and collaboration are integral to the jobs of the future, and balanced and active play helps kids develop these 21st century skills.
Unfortunately, play is disappearing in our schools. The Journal Pediatrics found that 30 % of children surveyed had little to no recess in their school day. At KaBOOM!, we believe play should be part of a well-rounded school day. Play helps children adjust to the school setting, enhances their learning readiness, and indirectly contributes to children learning more hard skills by mitigating behavioral problems and increasing academic engagement.
We are thrilled to partner with NAEYC, to raise awareness about the importance of play in early childhood education. As part of this commitment, we are granting Imagination Playgrounds to 10 NAEYC member sites. This unique and innovative play product will help transform regular classrooms into playspaces that encourage learning, social development, critical thinking, movement, and fun!
How does play benefit kids?
Allvin: As children play they demonstrate their approaches to learning, they engage with others in a social relationship, they express emotion, they attempt things that are challenging, yet achievable–enhancing their self-esteem. There’s also an integration of math, literacy, science, and other academic areas–constructing, classifying, sorting, seriating, quantifying, and practicing other skills. Physical play supports the development of gross and fine motor skills. Research now demonstrates the development of self-regulation or executive function in sociodramatic (pretend) play leads to higher achievement!
Hammond: Just as a healthy diet balances proteins, fats, carbohydrates, and other nutrients, a balanced “play diet” should include a mix of all kinds of play, because different types have different benefits. For example, play-dough creations, blocks, and make-believe spark the imagination and teach problem-solving. Running, jumping, and climbing get legs moving and hearts pumping. And exploring playgrounds with families or playing hide-and-seek with friends helps kids learn to work together, collaborate, and share. A balance of play means active minds, active bodies, and active together to realize all of play’s benefits.
What impact can play have on cities?
Hammond: Across the U.S., communities are engaged in fierce competition for the future. They are competing for businesses, economic development, and jobs. They are competing for residents. The fact is, for communities to thrive, they need to ensure that all of their residents are happy, healthy, and contributing to their overall vitality. One essential component is a renewed commitment to fostering family-friendly, kid-friendly environments that allow young people to get their bodies moving and their minds engaged no matter where they are.
Currently we have inequitable distribution of services, resources, and opportunities for low-income families. This inequity serves to perpetuate the cycle of poverty that threatens our nation's economic future. Creating family-friendly cities filled with play is a competitive advantage for cities to attract and retain residents, and it directly impacts the kids that need it most.
1. Name: Becky Graham
2. Title: Director of Business Development
3. How long have you been at the Chamber? I started in February of 2013 so nearly 2 years
4. What is the first thing you do when you get to the office?
Follow up on any outstanding items from the day before and strategize on new opportunities to engage our members. The Business Development team is always searching for creative ways to get our members involved and ensure they receive ROI.
5. What is your favorite part of your job?
Helping people to achieve their goals through membership and helping organizations connect with one another for business opportunities.
6. Tell us one of your goals for this year.
Grow our membership and diversify the industries we serve. With new businesses popping up almost every day in this region, I want to connect these organizations with resources to ensure their success.
7. Who is someone that you would love to meet (living or dead)?
It is hard to narrow it down to just one, but I would say Colin Powell.
8. What are some of your hobbies outside of the office?
I enjoy getting involved with charitable organizations. Living in the DC metro regions means the incredible opportunity to connect with so many non-profits both large and small. It is fun to get involved with so many deserving organizations and contribute toward their mission.
9. In your opinion, why is the Fairfax Chamber a great membership organization?
The people you stand to meet. From the region’s brightest minds, to the next generation of leaders, to region’s top executives and industry titans…the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce is the best place for businesses to connect for unparalleled networking and thought leadership.
10. How can we reach you?
firstname.lastname@example.org; (703) 752-7515; @RebeckahGraham
Leaders often face business challenges that require more than a quick-fix meeting or phone call. In all honesty, those challenges keep business leaders up at night. Issues like potential declining profit margins or sales, non-performing employees, and finding (and keeping) the right talent aren’t always solvable “problems” but more like ever expanding puzzles that require constant attention.
So when we hear The National Sleep Foundation say that adults need about seven hours of sleep a night in order to feel rested, we think to ourselves that surely doesn’t apply to the leader types.
The following are the Top 3 business challenges that we hear, are keeping leaders like you up at night:
Even though you might not be physically involved with the production and delivery of their product/service or available during every customer meeting, ensuring customer happiness isn’t very far from your mind. Our company’s and employee’s online footprint can start a customer’s experience long before the first direct contact with the company. We are seeing companies shift from being departmentalized to a more customer centric model reflecting the impact that everyone in the company can have on a customer’s experience.
Amidst all of the computers, software, smartphones and other supporting technology in the workplace, the true stars of the show are your people. Smart leaders know they can’t do it all alone, and there’s much emphasis placed on finding and cultivating high-performing talent. And for a leader, that means hiring employees who are living, breathing representations of, well, themselves.
Antwayne Ford feels this pressure. “One of the things we do at Enlightened is try to make sure that our leaders have the same DNA as the executive management,” he says. “When I don’t have somebody who doesn’t have my DNA, that keeps me up at night. “
No matter what, investing in people – humans with complex emotions – can sometimes be a gamble. That’s why finding smart, positive, motivated professionals who share the vision you have for your company and keeping them happy is an important part of the success of your business.
It’s one thing to have to smooth the waters every once in a while in your own company, but sometimes you get an extra helping of playing peacemaker, especially within companies that rely on other companies for the success of their business. If you think it’s hard to keep one business running smoothly, imagine being negatively impacted every time another business hits a rough patch or you are threatened by a new regulation. That’s why taking the time to really understand and communicate with every kind of partner in your business and staying updated on the regulatory landscape, is vital to your professional relationships, both in-house and otherwise.
The Fairfax Chamber of Commerce is very familiar with all of the above and is there to support its membership regardless of the business challenge. They would like to know what is keeping you up at night? Take our brief survey, find out what keeps others like you from getting their eight hours.
Cerius Executives have successfully helped small, start-up ventures to Fortune 100, overcome their most challenging business problems. For more information, please go to www.ceriusexecutives.com or call us at (888) 565-5289.