Becoming a leader is a lot like learning how to ride a bike: you start out slow, seek help from a mentor, fall down a lot, run into things and could potentially break something important. There is a lot of risk that these two ideas share, but there is also a lot of freedom. Once we learn how to ride a bike, we can go literally anywhere in the world because we are not reliant on an outside power source—the power comes from within. This is the same as leadership and having executive presence. We seek help and learn the basics and eventually get to a point where the world is our open road and we can go anywhere we want.
But, as with biking, there are still guidelines to follow. Being an Executive is not only about having the freedom and power to say and do whatever you wish, there are others whom we influence and affect.
It’s the idea of creating a team and remaining a part of that team as you climb the CEO Food Chain that sets a good executive apart from the “bossy know it alls.”
We’d like to think of this post as a guide for the rising executive—an explanation of executive presence as a characteristic and not as a job title.
- Seek a Balance between being Ambitious and Modest
Act, think and communicate like a leader but do not let the power get to you. Remember that in order to climb to the top, you must also be aware of where your starting point is, and what you must do to help your team from your current role.
- Seek Opportunities and Take Action
There are problems that others aren’t willing to tackle or don’t even know exist. Take on the challenge of the “white space”—if you see a problem that others may not see, consult the group and find a way to fix the problem. Leadership is an action, not a simply a state of being.
- Keep your approach Hollistic
Provide a positive influence to your team. Don’t exert authority where you don’t have any. Focus on solving problems, not getting promoted. If you keep the “team” mentality, you will always have a support system. We all win if we work together; more minds and points of view are better than one.