I’m continuing to think about issues where we coach leaders because they didn’t learn skills earlier in their careers. Executive presence is a great example of this. There’s really no excuse for an executive close to a senior leadership position to lack executive presence. Yet it happens all the time and we as coaches are asked to fix the problem.
Here’s the right approach. Hold a senior executive offsite where the attributes of executive presence for your company are defined. This is a critical step because the answers will vary greatly based on your industry and culture. I saw great evidence of this at a recent symposium where different companies sent senior executives to discuss their approaches to executive presence. The answered varied greatly as did the approaches for teaching executive presence. This was not surprising. The important thing is to get it right for your company, allowing for some cultural variations around the world.
Once you define executive presence, the next step is to use a blended learning approach to train your existing knowledge worker teams. Once this is accomplished, new employees should be similarly trained, as they join your company.
Finally, when employees become high potentials, their mentoring should include an executive presence focus to reinforce the importance of this component of leadership.
There is a secondary benefit to this approach. Once you make executive presence a priority, you will have conditioned your organization to the importance of soft skills to achieving success. This will make employees receptive to learning soft skills more easily.