As I entered his conference room, he stood up and slightly leaned forward, I did too.
He said : Welcome ! While his piercing eyes met mine in a five second arm wrestling type of look.
I held on as well as I could, while smiling. He was smiling too, indicating the chair that was ready for me.
He kept his smile, I kept mine.
The remaining thirty minutes of interview turned out to be a conversation. I knew I was hired before he even said so. Probably he felt it was a match, I kind of felt it too.
Thinking back to my first Hong Kong job interview, I realize it took my new boss just 6 seconds to make up his mind to hire me, a rather swift decision.
While in his logistics firm, I learned a lot: marketing, sales, networking, how to handle business on boat parties and how to be congenial in business clubs, as well as at lunches and dinners with VIPs. He could engage in conversation with anyone : truck drivers, CEOs of listed companies and mainland officials. His mood, as changing as the weather: sometimes irritable, inflexible in his demands, on other days, extremely generous and undeniably funny when he decided to be amusing.
He was my first hands-on experience, I still think, of executive presence at its best; so much so that within this international logistics group, from Hong Kong to Tokyo and from Beijing to Johannesburg, he was best known by his first name.
Then, what is executive presence ?
The ability to talk ? To be remembered ? To be organized ? To manage ? To make correct decisions ? Or is there more to it ?
Often shrouded in mystery, this question is intriguing, as plenty of newly created companies seem badly in need of a charismatic leader. Executive presence, while being natural in some individuals, is a skill that many agree can be cultivated and built to make your own mark.
The consensus is that it is mostly about inspiring confidence. The confidence of the team(s) you are in charge of, as well the confidence of the senior leaders. The confidence that makes your team(s) listen to you, and what prompts your senior leaders to give you more responsibilities, with the corresponding rewards. The confidence that you are up for great achievements.
It also has a lot to do with providing employees with opportunities.
Why is it required?
Because it is about leadership qualities, trust, corporate image and access to opportunities, within the company and on the market.
We have established here a list of 8 steps for your next speech to remind you of
the qualities of executive presence, in a simple acronym : S.T.A.N.D.I.N.G
- Smile : A smile reveals the winner in us. Start your speech with a smile.
- Thank : Always be grateful for the opportunity to talk. Mention the organizers of this talk.
- Acknowledge : Mention the people who did some good work.
- Natural : Be and feel natural as you speak, this always makes the audience feel comfortable.
- Data : Quote some quantitative data, that is easy to remember, for anyone to take back home.
- Improvise : Tell a short story that illustrates a point you need to make - including a little joke.
- Noteworthy : Quote unusual and useful facts that illustrate your topic, something memorable.
- Give : Give the opportunity to some members of your staff to accomplish rewarding tasks.
We hope this has given you some information for you to begin to feel more confident to develop the executive presence that will enrich your career as well as your work experience as a whole.