How Personal Experience Shapes Executive Presence

confidence

 

Are you leadership material?

How do you become influential?

What are the qualities of executive presence?

 

Most of us want to increase our influence, but many don’t know where to start. There are behaviors that influence others, and there are ways to increase your leadership presence.

Diana Jones brings three decades worth of experience in leadership development and packs it into her new book, Leadership Material: How Personal Experience Shapes Executive Presence. Diana is a leadership coach, advisor, and relationship specialist. I recently spoke with her about her research.

 

“Leaders with executive presence seamlessly blend personal experience with their professional identity.” –Diana Jones

 

The Professional and Personal Are Linked

“It’s a myth that a leader’s personal qualities must remain separate from their professional identity.” You share a story of an awful tragedy and how you kept that private during a leadership retreat. Tell us more about the intersection between the personal and professional.diana jones

The core premise of my work is that leaders personal and professional identities aren’t separate. They are inextricably linked. Leaders have been fooled into thinking that being impersonal and rational leads to success. It doesn’t. Poor engagement and alienation results. Without personal qualities, leaders are faceless bureaucrats, and their staff find it difficult to connect with them. Our experience of being with any leader is greatly influenced by their personal qualities.

My book deals with leaders’ professional identities. By thoughtfully choosing what is personal, what is private, and what they let come to the foreground in their interactions, leaders influence how others experience them. I coach leaders to bring helpful personal qualities into their interactions. Leaders with personal qualities like contempt, demanding, and cold create anxiety and emotional turmoil around them. People don’t like working with them. Leaders with personal qualities such as being insightful, approachable, and succinct have powerful effects in inspiring others to action.

The secret in my book Leadership Material is that if you don’t know who and what has shaped you as a leader, you won’t be able to lead people. The key lever for developing as a leader is through your earlier life experiences. By uncovering the likely source of unhelpful behaviors, you then have a choice of your current authentic response which builds relationships and produces results.

 

“When people feel understood and accepted, they flourish.” –Diana Jones

 

Successful Leaders Share Personal Stories

When do you share?

Successful leaders share their personal stories. They do this to:

  • Inspire teams to connect around a shared purpose, direction, or action
  • Let others know how to work with them

Staff hear and experience the leader’s authenticity, and there is shared understanding. This draws people to those leaders.

Leaders build trust by letting their boss and peers know how they think and feel about important matters.

 

“Up to 70% of a team’s climate is determined by the leader.” –Hay Group Research

 

How much is oversharing?

7 Game Changers To Improve Your Leadership Position

Shift Your State

Anese Cavanaugh’s new work, Contagious Culture: Show Up, Set the Tone, and Intentionally Create an Organization that Thrives is a terrific guide to upping your leadership and creating a positive, contagious atmosphere.

After our first interview, I thought to ask Anese about some of her tips for shifting someone’s state. Why? Because it’s one of the most important aspect of leadership. The ability to help someone from one state to another is a skill that every leader should master.

 

Leadership Tip: Increase your awareness of what is working and the impact your choices have.

 

7 Game Changers

In your work as an advisor and “thinking partner” to leaders and organizations, you developed 7 game changers to shift someone’s state. What has been your experience using them as a coaching tool?Anese Cavanaugh

I’ve found that even offering these as places for people to look can make them game changers within themselves. So much of this work is about awareness. Awareness as to what’s working – and what’s not, awareness of their role and impact in how things are and how their choices have led them here, awareness that they can choose, awareness that there’s dissatisfaction, awareness of the impact their relationships have on them (and vice versa), and awareness that they can very much in fact do something to shift things – even if that something is just getting a bit of extra water, finding ONE thing they’re grateful for, telling someone they see how great they are, taking ownership and cleaning something up, asking for help, or finding (and claiming) the request (or wish) that lives underneath their complaint. Once they have awareness that these 7 things have impact – they can get into action. Big or small.

 

7 Game Changers To Improve Your Leadership Position

1: Do your work. Be accountable for your choices.

2: Stop complaining and start resolving.

3: Ask for help-admit your glorious imperfections.

4: Surround yourself with good people.

5: Practice gratitude, even for the stuff that hurts.

6: Eat well. Really well. Move your body. Drink water.

7: Love your kids. Love your friends. Love your people. Love yourself. Remember who you are.

 

Simple ways to integrate these 7 points is to take each one and try it on for a day. For example, ask: Where do I need to show up bigger? Where can I be more accountable for the choices I’ve made? How did my choices lead me here? What choice can I make now to start shifting this in the right direction? How would I like things to be instead? Where do I need help? Where am I making “looking good” more important than asking for help or creating real and positive impact? Who’s my professional posse / my advisory board? How am I taking care of myself? (Truly?) What’s the littlest thing I can do to shift ANY of these? Little things make big ripples.

 

Shift From Complaining to Doing

How To Create A Positive and Contagious Culture

How To Create A Positive and Contagious Culture

 

“For better or worse, your presence has impact. It is contagious.” -Anese Cavanaugh

 

You’re contagious.

No, I’m not talking about a virus. But I am talking about the fact that you influence people in a way that you may not realize.

Anese Cavanaugh’s new book, Contagious Culture: Show Up, Set the Tone, and Intentionally Create an Organization that Thrives, is one of the best guides to understanding this influence and showing up in a way that generates positive energy. When a leader creates this positive presence, everything changes.

You can be that leader. You can be positively contagious.

Anese is a speaker, advisor, teacher, and thinking partner to some of today’s most innovative organizations. We recently talked about her book on creating a contagious culture.

 

“To create impact you need people, purpose, and personal nourishment.” -Anese Cavanaugh

 

Leaders Are Contagious

Let’s start with the first word in the title of your book, Contagious Culture. How are leaders contagious?

In so many ways: our mindset, our regard for others, our attitude, our energy – it’s all contagious. Going a bit deeper, I look at “contagious” in two ways: 1) how a leader makes others feel, and 2) how he or she influences how others show up by how he or she shows up.

A leader’s intention, energy, and presence has a big impact and huge influence on the people around her. It’s felt in her presence, how she shows up in a room, how she regards others. People respond to that and are either inspired and uplifted by it or demotivated and deflated by it. The minute a leader walks into a room he or she is setting the tone – if they’re in a good mood, people feel it. If they’re in a bad mood, people feel it. If they’re optimistic, people feel it. If they’re worried, people feel it. We are always having an impact with our presence and how we show up. This impact is felt by those around us and is often paid forward.

Just think of the last time you were in a conversation and in a good mood, and the person you’re talking to starts complaining or gossiping or their energy is just negative, and all of a sudden you start to find yourself complaining, gossiping, feeling negative. Or, you have a positive regard for someone in your company, and a leader in the company starts to “bad mouth” them – even in a lightly nuanced manner, and you start to feel your regard shift. You’ve “caught” that person’s state. We do it all the time. It’s easy to match a “low vibe” or “negative state.” We’re driving our kids to school and we’re in a funk, all of a sudden the whole car is in a funk. You’re in a great mood, your teenager is giving you grief, and slowly but surely you feel your energy start to drop and that good mood turns bad. The company is going through a challenging time, and the energy of doom and gloom starts to take over. Fortunately it works both ways… An executive with great energy and presence walks into a room, and all of a sudden the room feels lighter, creative, more alive. You’re in a funk, you have a quick chat with a colleague who’s got great energy, or meet a random stranger in an elevator who feels nice to be around, and voila, your state starts to shift. You’re feeling “ick” about one of your colleagues and someone shares positive regard for them, and you get a glimpse into another possibility.

At the end of the day when you want to look at how you feel walking away or walking into something (a conversation, a meeting, a room) – do you feel good, big, fuller, awake, expansive? Or do you feel exhausted, small, drained, yucky, constrictive? That’s energy – and it’s contagious. It works for the positive (it’s a super power) and it also works for the negative. Gossip, complaining, making stories up, regarding other people poorly, negative energy, these are all contagious and highly influential. Fortunately it works the other way too: accountability, seeing the good in people, optimism, and positive energy. We can choose which way we want it to go and that takes leadership.

 

“You become what you believe, decide, and act upon.” -Anese Cavanaugh

 

5 Components of Showing Up With Intentional Energetic Presence (IEP)

You developed the 5 Components of Showing Up With Intentional Energetic Presence. How’d you develop this model?

ContagiousCultureThis came from experiencing for myself and watching over and over again with clients and our program participants the cycle of how I notice “impact” and “showing up” really happens – and what’s necessary to make it sustainable and effective. When I broke it down, I could see these 5 components forming a cycle. You can enter at any point, but you need all five. Some days, depending on where you’re at and what you need (and what the room, project, your team, or the other person needs), the entry point might be different.

I find that intention and impact are really good book ends or anchors – what’s your intention for the impact you want to create? Your energy, your presence, and your actions & skills are going to help make it so. I noticed years ago that people often would go really heavy on one or two of these components, but they’d leave out the others and it would cost them – impact, relationships, peace, results – so I put them all together. These work with the IEP Leadership Model shared in the book, in that each level of the model helps strengthen and nourish these 5 components.

 

“Your meetings and agreements are where culture shows up.” -Anese Cavanaugh

 

Choose Your Impact

How To Create An Optimistic Workplace

Make Work Happy

Do you want to create an optimistic workplace?

How does a strong purpose help in difficult times?

How do leaders set a positive leadership presence?

 

“The climate suffers when employees don’t believe their leader has their back.” –Shawn Murphy

 

My friend, author and speaker Shawn Murphy is the CEO & Founder of the leadership blog, Switch & Shift. His new book, The Optimistic Workplace, is a guide to creating and maintaining a powerful, positive, optimistic culture that creates results.

Previously, Shawn shared with us the powerful implications of positive, contagious emotions. I wanted to go deeper into the research for his new book, and so I asked Shawn to share more about the leadership insights he gained from decades of working with business leaders.

 

“Optimistic climates support employees’ exploration of purpose.” –Shawn Murphy

 

Find Your Purpose

I was fascinated by the research on eyeblinks. How does the eyeblink reflex relate to purpose?

Researchers used startle probes to measure the reflexive eyeblink caused by a stimulus, in the case of this research it was an image. The images ranged from positive, to neutral, to negative.

What researchers learned was the length of the eyeblink gave insight into the person’s emotional response to the pictures. The longer the eyeblink, the more unpleasant the response to the picture.

How this connects to purpose is that the researchers, Carol Ryff and team, found that those who had a clearer sense of purpose in life recovered faster from negative images. The research gets at a person’s resiliency. Purpose in life strengthens the core of our identity. The clearer our sense of purpose, the stronger our resiliency is; we can recover faster from negative stimulus in our life.

In a work context, we can summon our purpose to guide us through difficult times at work. It can also help us make better decisions, as purpose serves as a guide in decision making: Does this opportunity support my purpose?

 

“Resilience can be strengthened when a person has a sense of purpose.” –Shawn Murphy

 

Start Small to Cultivate Optimism

To cultivate optimism in the workplace, you say, “Start small,” and, “Forget about the ‘big bang.’” Most people who have a passion for culture want to jump right in with sweeping initiatives and major change. Why start small?

In my 20+ years as an organizational change management consultant and in leading change in my own company, I’ve learned that the big bang causes more confusion, comes across as rah-rah, and alienates people from what the change purpose and message is.

 

“Workplace optimism is the belief that good things will come from hard work.” –Shawn Murphy

 

So, rather go for broke, start small. Create a pocket of excellence. The change starts in a small group within the organization. The group is typically a supporter of the change. Let the small group experience success and gradually widen it to other pockets within the company.

Word of the success travels through networks of people. This approach organically builds support through achieved success and not through possible success. It’s the latter that is the focus of big bang change efforts. It’s what disillusions people about change efforts.

 

Research: You can transform the work experience by focusing on the best positive realities.

Lessons from SEAL, the Toughest Man on the Planet

Break the Norm for Wild Success

 

Ever feel like you want to take your physical fitness plan up a notch?

Maybe give it your all for 51 Days with former Mr. Universe Rich Gaspari?

Or maybe hire a Navy SEAL to move in with your family for 31 days?

 

“Every day do something that makes you uncomfortable.” -SEAL

 

Jesse Itzler doesn’t do conventional. He doesn’t follow the social norms most of us do. He is a bold, risk taking entrepreneur who seemingly tries anything. He once pretended to be a major hip-hop artist to get a meeting with a studio executive and ended up with a recording deal.

But hire one of the toughest men on the planet to get you into the best shape of your life? Jesse did just that. I recently asked the wildly successful and completely unorthodox Jesse Itzler to share some of his experiences. His new book Living with a Seal: 31 Days Training with the Toughest Man on the Planet, is a hilarious account of his physical fitness journey. (Warning: the book contains language that may be offensive to some readers.)

 

“It doesn’t have to be fun It has to be effective.” -SEAL

 

Get Your Foot in the Door and Figure it Out Later

 

Living With a SealI’m not quite sure how to describe you, but you’ve had crazy success from music to business. You cofounded Marquis Jet, invested in ZICO, and your wife invented SPANX. That seems like you would be someone who would make wise decisions. And then I read this hilarious book and wonder about that assumption. For those who want to emulate your success, how do you describe your decision-making process?

We are totally on the same page because I really don’t know how to describe myself either. I have always lived my life out of the box, and it has brought me great rewards. For the most part, my decision making has been based on my gut mixed with a philosophy of let me get my foot in the door first . . . and then figure the rest out later.

 

“If you want to be pushed to your limits, you have to train to your limits.” -SEAL

 

Jesse, you see a crazy in-shape SEAL and decide he should move in with you and your family. You don’t know him; you didn’t do a background check; you agree to do whatever he says. ARE YOU INSANE? Why did you do this?

I met SEAL at a 24 hour ultra marathon. I ran the race as part of a relay team, and SEAL ran the entire 24 hour race . . . alone. He was his own team. He had a determination and focus that I had never witnessed before in my life. I decided on the spot that I could learn a lot from that man.

 

“The only easy day was yesterday.” -SEAL

 

Say No to Non-Essentials

What was most surprising about those 31 days?