Women and Executive Presence: 7 Strategies for Success

Are you a woman in leadership?

Your desire is probably to keep right on truckin’ up that career ladder to bigger and better positions.

To achieve this, there’s one important quality you need – you have to exude an executive presence.

Establish your executive presence by being intentional and thoughtful about your interactions with everyone you come into contact with. #improvtips 

It’s all about developing your own voice and your own personal brand in your communications and interactions with others.

Here are some ways to develop your executive presence as a woman in leadership so your career stays on an upward trajectory.

1. Know you’re an asset

Never walk into a meeting doubting what you can add to the conversation.

Prepare ahead of time and use the unique perspective gained from your experiences.

Have the mindset that your organization would suffer a great loss if you weren’t leading the team.

2. Send the right message with your body

Two specific components of improvisation can be used to help you build your executive presence.

  • Breathing. Breathe deeply, all the way into your belly. It will calm you and help you to be more poised.
  • Body language. Stand up tall and straight. Be calm and purposeful about the way you hold yourself and your gestures. Look others in the eye when you’re speaking and be intentional about truly engaging.
3. Think before you speak

Never talk just to talk – be deliberate and make sure that each word you speak is advancing your purpose.

Don’t rush through the important message that you want to deliver. You’ll risk losing the power of your words.

You also need to ask questions and listen to the answers.

When you take the time to think before you speak, you’re able to ask more thoughtful questions that will evoke a relevant, helpful response.

4. Use the power of the pause

A lull in conversation can make you feel uneasy.

Your instinct is to rush to fill it, but you have to resist the urge.

Embracing the silence gives you an air of authority and it allows the people to whom you’re speaking a chance to comprehend your message.

This also gives you the chance to pay attention to the behavior of others.

Assess their body language and adjust your words and actions, if necessary.

5. Tap into your sense of humor

You might think that letting your wit shine through makes you look less professional.

As a woman trying to establish an executive presence, showing your sense of humor may seem counterintuitive.

The truth is, people notice when you’re taking yourself too seriously – and it usually backfires.

A good sense of humor is an important quality for a successful leader to have and will add to your executive presence.

6. Establish boundaries

Know where to draw the line when it comes to people-pleasing, which can be difficult for women in leadership.

Take constructive criticism seriously and use it as the impetus for necessary changes.

But, don’t give what other people say too much power.

7. Make “Yes, and” your best friend

One of the most important aspects of having an executive presence is communication.

The way you engage with others is crucial.

The people you’re interacting with should always feel that they have your attention and that their opinion matters to you.

There’s no better way to ensure this than by using “Yes, and” statements in your conversations.

It shows that you’re giving validity to what the other person is saying, while also subtly steering the conversation.

Women and executive presence: Make your mark

As a woman in leadership, you’re in a unique position.

Establishing an executive presence can feel like a bit of a tightrope walk.

But, it doesn’t have to when you employ these tactics.

Know your worth, be aware of your body language, use the power of the pause to your advantage and don’t be afraid to put your wit on display.

You’ll be leaving your mark – your personal brand – as you climb the ladder of success.

As a woman in leadership, which of these tactics is the most challenging for you?

Be intentional about putting these strategies into action as you communicate with coworkers, both above and below you.

This article is 100% written by a human named Karen Hough. She is the Founder & CEO of ImprovEdge, in the top 4% of women-owned businesses in the US, a 3-time Amazon bestselling author, Yale grad, wife and mom of three.