What's Executive Presence for women?
You exude gravitas. You communicate with clarity and conviction. You build strong, meaningful relationships with others.
That's executive presence.
When you have executive presence, you influence and inspire those around you with ease.
So, what are the key components? Gravitas' key components include confidence, decisiveness, inclusiveness, respect for others, vision, and integrity. Leadership qualities when it comes to powerful communication include exceptional speaking skills, 'command of the room', active listening to learn, reading your audience, authenticity, and attentive body language.
The Intersection of Executive Presence and The Future of Female Executives
Before we dive into the how, what's the reality for most women in leadership positions? Well, the gender equity gap for women leaders is very real, but we are moving in a hopeful direction. Here are some stats on today's reality:
One study shows that 75% of female execs have experienced significant self-doubt in their careers, despite female leaders being more effective across the majority of leadership skills. Imagine the impact that has on executive presence...
Women hired into leadership is increasing, but by less than 1% a year, according to LinkedIn's data. And female leaders are leaving companies at the highest rate ever with burnout as a key cause.
Yet, remote work paints a different picture of the future of female leadership. Regardless of on-site vs. remote work, women worldwide are becoming more ambitious. And flexibility is fueling that ambition, according to McKinsey's Women in the Workplace 2023. Remote work offers higher flexibility, and most women (and men) experience less fatigue and burnout leading to better work-life balance, key contributors to organizational success. On top of that, when women work remotely, they face fewer microaggressions and have higher levels of psychological safety. Remote work can be a pathway for women to reach senior leadership positions faster and more sustainably.
What's the benefit to more female execs? Companies with more female execs are more socially responsible and create better customer experiences, contributing to higher profits. Harvard Business Review found that it's because of 3 fundamental changes to strategic thinking, including 1) being more open to change and less open to risk, 2) shifting to a knowledge-building strategy focused on internal R&D (instead of mergers and acquisitions), and 3) having a higher impact on decision-making (caveat: when female leaders are effectively integrated into the executive suite).
What does this mean for executive presence for women? Confidence—or the deeper element, self-trust—is the foundation for emanating executive presence. Pair that with remote work (fully or hybrid), female leaders may have a better workplace—more work-life balance and psychological safety and fewer microaggressions—to practice executive presence.
And like with any skill, the more practice, the better you get at it. The better you get, the stronger confidence you'll have. It's all interconnected.
4 Ways to Develop Feminine Executive Presence in Remote Work
While executive presence is in part skill development, it's largely mindset. It's shifting from "life happens to me" to "I am the creator of my life." Here are four ways to move into that mindset of creator:
Cultivate self-trust, the foundation for unshakeable confidence. Most of this is inner work—mental, emotional, and even physical. Check out the guide on cultivating self-trust as a female leader.
Mold your mind with neuroscience and emotional intelligence. Understanding the brain and emotions elevates your executive presence. By rewiring the brain, you can proactively shift from a reactive state to a responsive state—and create new, positive beliefs and habits—leading to more effective communication and decision-making.
Embrace your feminine leadership presence. Tap into your unique Personal Power—a state of mind, of being—where you're deeply connected to your Higher Self (the one that is in alignment with who you really are. Your truth. Your intuition.). When you embody your Personal Power, you lead and live with integrity, aligned with your purpose, values, goals, and unique skills. It also enables you to lead with compassion and create an inclusive and supportive culture, propelling engagement, higher performance, and impactful results.
Elevate Your Powerful Presence
My challenge for you is to pick one of the ways to develop your feminine executive presence.
Rate where you're at on a scale of 1-5. One being almost never and five being almost always. For example, how often do you feel a deep sense of self-trust? Or, how often do you embrace your feminine leadership? Also, get honest feedback from your team and peers. An executive coach can help you with that, too.
Envision what you want it to look like 1 year from now—knowing 100% that you can achieve it because you can and will. Write. Write until you have nothing left to write. Close your eyes and visualize it. What do you see? Feel (and where in the body)? Think?
Work your way backward. What steps will you take to reach your 1-year vision? What obstacles will come up on the way? How will you navigate them?
Create your action plan. Just like with any project, map it out. Define the milestones you need to hit and the timeline. Then ask yourself, "How could I cut this timeline in half?" Update it, and embark!
Invest in yourself with executive coaching. You can achieve your goals on your own, but it also takes A LOT of trial and error when you're doing it on your own. An executive coach helps you achieve your goals faster if coaching is right for you. Not sure if coaching is right for you? There's a simple way to find out. I can ask you 5 powerful questions to challenge and provoke your thinking. That's it. Nothing more. No pressure to buy. Just an opportunity to gain clarity.