Throughout my career I’ve encountered people who excelled at the technical aspects of their jobs but lacked the executive presence required to be taken seriously, to advance, or to be seen as leaders. Some of them were oblivious to how their weak presence was holding them back, while others recognized or had been told they had a presence problem but failed to work on it because they assumed if they weren’t born with a strong presence, they were out of luck. The good news is that you can learn how to dramatically improve your executive presence.

Such improvement requires an awareness of what presence is and how it operates, an acceptance of its critical importance to your career, an identification and acknowledgement of your own shortcomings, and a strategy for growth. I’ve been providing precisely this to professionals at all levels for years. Now I’m bringing my approach to a broader audience with my Proficiency1 online self-paced course, Mastering the Unwritten Rules of Executive Presence: How to Construct a Confident, Captivating Professional Persona . In it I’ll show you how to live up to your full potential so that others will more readily believe you, believe in you, and, if you’re an aspiring leader, follow you.

In a perfect world, skills-based assessments using objective, fair, clearly identified standards would determine how others judge you as a professional. We live in a very different world, however, where highly subjective, unfair, unwritten, and often unconscious rules can play an oversized role in how you’re judged. How you communicate, carry yourself, and even look all shape your executive presence, which in turn influences how others—your bosses, peers, employees, and customers—see youIn other words, executive presence is how you consciously and unconsciously communicate your competence.

People rightly spend most of their career development energy on building their core skills but then give little attention to the key elements of presence and end up selling themselves short. A small investment of time and effort to improve your executive presence can yield outsized results by sharpening your image and performance as a professional.

I’ll be blogging about executive presence a lot in the coming weeks because it’s a critical but misunderstood subject about which I’m passionate. One part of the misunderstanding I want to clear up right now is that executive presence is for everyone, not just executives, which is why I tend to use the term professional presence instead. Presence has critical career implications for even the most junior professionals and comes into play the moment you interview for your first job. So please read my future posts and check out my course to start improving your professional presence today.

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