Stand Up Straight; Roll Those Shoulders Back

14 Feb

Since I began to walk, my mom has yelled at me to stand up straight and roll my shoulders back. Whether simply standing in the kitchen or trying on clothes in a store, I cannot seem to shake her nagging regarding my inadequate posture. Why does she do this? For my health? Looks? Future in the business world?

What is the “Executive Presence?”

They call it the “executive presence”—the aura surrounding a leader. This so-called executive presence is about how you look and act. It is the confidence, strategy, decisiveness and assertiveness you exude.

For most people, this presence is not natural. Building this aura requires work—enough work that companies, such as Intel Corporation and Morgan Stanley, instituted programs to improve their employees’ executive presences. Programs include sessions with an executive coach, presentation training, and workshops to revamp some employees’ looks—clothing, hairstyle, and even make up.

Why Should You Want to Improve Your Executive Presence?

You want your colleagues to respect you in the workplace. You want them to admire your ability to present your ideas, say yes to your proposals, and ask your advice. If you are like most people, you also eventually want to move up within your organization.

In order to gain this respect, receive promotions, and simply achieve in the business world, you need to communicate effectively. Micro-messages are key components to effective communication. Your gestures, ability to look people straight in the eye, tone of voice, even looks affect how your audience receives and interprets your opinions. Improving these micro-messages means improving your executive presence.

You strive to leave a lasting impression when you communicate in business. According to Stefanie Smith, head of Stratex Consulting, in this day and age, “you have less time to make that lasting impression.” Your executive presence plays a major role in making a positive impression on others.

Mother Knows Best

Next time my mother nags me for slouching, I will probably still roll my eyes and revert back to my old ways—I mean, a person cannot help certain natural reactions. However, I will remember she is only trying to prepare me for communicating in the business world by improving my executive presence… and looking after my health.

by Jennifer Cozen



One Response to “Stand Up Straight; Roll Those Shoulders Back”

  1. Jacob Trunsky February 14, 2012 at 4:44 pm #

    Thanks for sharing, Jennifer! You make some really important points. “Executive Presence,” or good non-verbals, are essential because they make us seem more confident and professional. In addition to the up-side, there is an even bigger downside of lacking these skills (we saw a lot of this in our first impromptu speeches). When we use weak hand gestures, sway, slouch, etc, it is a distraction to our audience. A distracted audience will not be able to focus on your message as easily and will not get as much out of what you are saying. Executive presence eliminates these distractions and allows people to concentrate on your main points.

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