One of my work highlights recently was conducting a workshop for a leading club in Sydney on presenting five-star brand presence.
I shared with the group what brand presence – or executive presence was according to a few people I had asked at various networking events.
One women had said, “Living your brand authentically and consciously communicating that.”
Other definitions included; “Awareness of how you conduct yourself in the workplace. What do you want to be known for? Demonstrate that and do it, not just say it.”
And another, “Having confident and credible communication.”
Executive presence has become a hot topic as the result of a survey and book published by New York’s Center for Talent Innovation. According to the results of the survey; to demonstrate executive presence you must have three key characteristics. Gravitas, communication excellence and a pleasing appearance.
Or as I like to call it the ABC’s … appearance, behaviour and communication. This is not news. It’s a subject that has been around a long time.
I remember “back in the day” learning about these traits at what was called modelling and deportment schools. I saved up my fruit shop Saturday morning job wages to go to one of those courses as I thought it was important to my future. It still is. Being aware of the softer intangible skills of standing out – no matter at what age.
Increasing these days, it is also about the D – your digital footprint. And the ABCD’s of image are what the Association of International Image Consultants, of which I am a member, espouses.
Let’s take a brief look at the ABCD of brand presence.
Dress codes have changed and a “formal”, business look is not always necessary, but it is still important to consider that your clothes, appearance and grooming really are the external image of your brand. What brand image are you projecting?
Some organisations have begun to say to staff, “Dress for your day”, as the new corporate wardrobe policy. Which is fine – if you are aware of what is the appropriate look for you and “your day”.
On the other hand, in NSW schools, a dress policy was introduced indicating that leaders should look like leaders and set an example by saying, no more thongs, revealing outfits or shirts branded with cigarette or alcohol advertising.
What signal do you send with your overall appearance and style? Is it friendly, casual, professional, creative, high fashion, a little quirky, or perhaps boring or worse – sloppy? Think about your appearance by choosing clothing that fits and suits you and in colours and styles that highlight and flatter you.
Appearance is also about that extra polish; having well-groomed hair or facial hair and choosing accessories that highlight your outfit rather than take away from it. We know that people shouldn’t judge us by our outward appearance – but they do.
It is worth being aware of acceptable behaviour and acting like a leader. Gravitas is one criteria of executive presence and is really about awareness of acting appropriately, conducting yourself with dignity and displaying confidence. Everything you say, do and the way you behave, speaks volumes about your personal brand.
It may be attributes you are unaware of that are perceived negatively by others. For instance, shyness coming across as aloofness or annoying speech habits, lack of good manners, punctuality. These are the things about you that speak loud and clear to others.
For some gravitas may seem like an elusive quality. But is it really unattainable? I don’t think so. It can be obtained by practising self-awareness and some self-analysis on your personality traits and professional behaviour.
Is your body language and non-verbal communication such as eye contact and handshake supporting you or subtracting from your essence?
How do you develop relationships with your clients or conduct yourself in social situations or networking events? Are you confident, charismatic and conversational? I’m sure you’ve seen many examples of people who have had too much to drink at work events and regretted things done or said. Perhaps not good gravitas.
You are your brand and how your project yourself is vitally important to the success of your business or career. You’ve no doubt invested a lot of time, effort and money into setting up your own business or learning new career skills – why not invest some time and effort into your self-brand – after all, you’re worth it!
Communication and Digital footprint – I’ll cover in my blog post next week
To find out more about how to uncover and develop your brand, view my free video series, NOOK, LOOK, HOOK, 3 Ways to Build a Stand Out Personal Brand.
Sue Currie is a speaker and the author of IMPRESSario, Present and Promote the Star Within You. She is recognised as a leading authority on personal branding to boost image, profile, brand and business. Through her professional development and profile building programs, workshops, consulting and keynote presentations, Sue helps businesses and entrepreneurs position and present an influential professional brand.