Executive presence is an essential element in developing a thoughtful, modern approach to leadership. It goes beyond mere skills and qualifications, encompassing the ability to captivate and influence others, create confidence and establish authenticity. Combined with external insights on trust from strategic leader Chaitra Vedullapalli, this episode will better position you to stand out, make a lasting impression, and gain the respect and trust of those inside and outside your organization.
What is executive presence and how can you develop your executive presence? We're going to discuss that topic in today's episode. Hey, Rich. So last time we talked about you hosting your first LinkedIn live webinar, man, I know you said it went well, but we are going to talk about that webinar exactly today and actually use the topic that you discuss around executive presence.
So first of all, how was that event truly? Yes. Yeah, it was great. Chitra Bedolla Pati She's the president and co-founder of Women in Cloud. Such amazing talent. Learned a lot of information from her and her experience on executive presence and leadership styles. Yeah, yeah. I mean, again, it was, it was a very successful one. It's one of our first of many alumni sessions and things that we're doing, which is very interesting, right.
I mean, can you tell us a bit more about the alumni or what why this is kicking kicking off? Yes. So the alumni actually sponsored the event. But what Chitra brought to that was the executive presence through the growth of through trust. Right. So basically very similar to what we're mirroring in today's episode. Right. So all based on trust in that executive presence and how to portray that and what what all that entails.
I like how it all alliance of what we're doing and it wasn't even planned like when I saw you do that, I'm like, Oh my gosh, we've been talking about that. It's it's perfect timing. So I thought, you know what? What better way than for us to use some of those clips and then we'll talk more about it and elaborate in today's episode.
Yeah, I'm excited. So we'll talk a little bit about her definition of executive presence, how trust plays into that, and what those key ingredients for executive presence are. Fantastic. All right. Well, with that, let's go ahead and watch the first clip. So she definitely sets the table of what executive presence is about. So let's go ahead and watch that clip.
Executive presence is really your personal platform and how you show up there are when you walk into the room and when you get into the room, people would say, I trust that person just comes to your mind is like, I feel safe. I feel confident that they would represent me. They have a body language that is very inclusive or they have a body language that is terror.
Depending upon the presence is really the executive presence can be in favor of feel or not in favor. So one is driven by fear, one is driven by love. So you need to know which leadership persona or executive persona you have. So in your mind, as you're thinking about it, think about the leaders that club have a persona that's led by a feeling.
You ask them as they enter the room you're sharing. You cannot speak your full stuff and their leaders, when they walk in, you just have a big smile on your face and your heart opens up. You want to talk to them, you want to engage with them. So that kind of presence is automatically intuitive. Your body starts to be very easily.
So that's a presence at the end of the day. So when you walk in, you should feel good or you should not be. So that gives you a level one understanding. Wow. So right off the bat, I love that she she started this, you know, that whole introduction of executive presence about really saying that, you know, when we think of executive presence nowadays, we tend to go towards how our own interpretation of what that could be based on our experience.
Right. Going into when somebody enters a room, how do they make us feel? A lot of people nowadays, when we're thinking about this, we're thinking on the positive side, like when she talked about you can help a smile, you know, the word gravitas is used, use quite a bit. But we don't understand that there have been some other experiences around executive presence that haven't been so positive.
There's still call it executive presence because there either have the title or they have the position or whatever. But when they come in the room, it's the opposite. It's, you know, you start to shiver and get so and I find that very fascinating because a lot of training that we're that we're talking about and we talk is always about how can I have executive presence on the positive end?
But we don't realize it can have the opposite side of the spectrum. Right, Exactly. Yeah. So just to elaborate on that, I used to in an old organization, let me preface this in the in an old organization that I worked in, you know, there was an executive that would come into the room and you can just kind of feel the tension as soon as he walked in.
And when that would happen, the room would fall silent. And, you know, obviously he would he would give his spiel. And then after that, he would go kind of in a round robin, firing off questions and having to answer those. So you could tell and you can you already can imagine that setting in that scene and what that felt like.
Yeah. Yeah. And one of the things again, if you we encourage you and we encourage you to watch the full episode or the full interview, what I like about what she's or she does in her interview as well as she, she loves movies as well. And she uses movies to learn about communication, about how to lead and everything like that.
And when you look at old Hollywood and old movies, how executives were seen as like a villain or that person walking in with their lawyers behind them, or a bunch of people behind them. And everybody just got real stiff, right? And that's me. That's how I grew up. That's how I thought, you know, corporate America was, you know, But then again, you were starting to see that shift or it's not not the case anymore, especially when now that, you know, different generations and all that, it's more about like how when you come in, it's like you feel, I don't know the word trust, cutthroat.
You feel like you can trust that person, that they're not there to, you know, bark orders, point fingers and do what you just said in. A lot of us have had that experience in the past. Either we've seen that like your case. Same thing with me. I had somebody and again, I want to preface this, the executive presence doesn't mean that you have to be an executive, because as we talked about with leadership, leadership is not a title.
Leadership is not a position. Right? It's it's it's earned. It's something that you you know, that you work through. Right? And you improve on. Same thing with executive presence, even to use that term. It's basically this presence that you have where you look confident or you're okay, where you're comfortable with authority, all these elements. And and that's that's what we're talking about today, right?
Is it's like there are, you know, team individuals who who come in a room and we just can't help but I don't know listen to Right. Or can help but like want to talk to them and things like that. Those are just elements that are just intangible things, but they're just comfortable in their own skin, man. They're just comfortable in their own space.
Do you have any examples of anybody like that that you know? Yeah, actually, as a matter of fact, my current boss, she's she's like that as well. As soon as she enters, you know, into any meetings, it's like you feel that warmth in the room and people are just naturally wanting to go above and beyond. Especially I see it a lot on my team.
I see it just in the the the relationships that she has and the people that she works with, that everybody's just a little more warm hearted and a little more giving when it lends to that sort of leadership style. So right on. Yeah it's it's you create an environment of collaboration of people speaking up or feeling comfortable. Yeah, there's so many things.
So just thinking about, you know, my examples as well. I mean, like I said, I mean a lot of executives and lot leadership and insight. I've seen examples of that where when they enter a room they don't suck energy, they actually give energy. And it's this positive energy, right? The opposite where they do take it, you can, you know, that whole example and you start to just like they don't even want to breathe.
It's like you're facing a T rex, right? Like, don't move. Maybe they won't see you. Right? It's like it's not a good feeling. But the other ones, it's like, Oh my gosh, they're here. It's amazing. And you just feel like you can approach them. I love that. It's so again, there's just so comfortable their calm collective and they all have their own unique personalities.
So I can think of several leaders with executive presence that all have their different personalities introverts, extroverts, you know, folks who are charismatic, some who are just very stoic and very quiet, but super observant, very in tune. So a lot of good stuff to unpack there. But I think with that, it's like it starts out it starts in the beginning, though, right?
You can't just come in and say, I have executive presence. Listen to me, I'm important. There's a first layer, right. And she talks about that in the interview. Well, what's that first beginning layer that we need to work on? Yeah. So it's a lot about how you carry yourself. It's almost so you do certain things and you have to be consistent with it.
Right? But it's almost the illustration how everybody perceives you as that executive presence, right? You do the things you're saying, you, you come to by you, you follow through with your actions and all of that, you know, kind of blend it in. It's going back to what we talked in the last episode, Zoraida. It's so funny. It's that you get to build that trust with them.
And I just say, trust me, you have to earn it. Right. And she talks about that. Next is how executive presence really starts, like any successful team is trust. So let's see what she has to say about trust. And in one packet, which think about how I trust relationships, most of the people think it's just like I believe in that and it's a very emotional word.
And then someone says, I don't trust you. You there is a breakdown in the relationship I just talked about. Early on. I was in a conversation with my manager and I was managing most of the pricing and licensing decisions and everyone would sit with me and talk to me about it because I was very collaborative and transparent, realized that I was sharing some information I shouldn't and say, Listen, I want to have a high trust relationship with you.
Can we make sure that you are committed? And at that time I didn't realize what she was talking about, right? So I went on a journey of embarking on that to see what the make a high trust relationship in. It's a formula allows you to identify do I have a high trust relationship or I don't. So the formula or a mental model is called this lack of trust.
So the acronym stands for are our stands for Reliability. You cannot rely on the person, the next person. And if I talk to you about something, I will get it done. And do you do it? Or you are just talking instead of doing it, people rely on it. That was the first element. Something is open and honesty. How open and honest you are.
You start getting into the space of gossip or space of destroying someone's reputation. How would you be open to being an open and honest so that you can make the decisions more forward? The third one is competency. Do you have the competency to do that work, that mastery? Very, very important. If I am given the opportunity to get something done, do I have the basics?
Can I bring the person who can execute that? And the last one is compassion. Compassion in a sense. Do I have compassion myself in the other person's shoes? So, Richard, if I'm working on your team, all this thinking gets you in the right way so that I'm looking for your work.
There was a lot to unpack there, but I like that very last statement that she said, you know, how can I serve you? You know, we talked about this before on a number of different episodes. Leadership is a servant duty, right? And once you bring that to the table, you know, it kind of lends itself to all these other things that we've been talking about.
Trust, right? Bringing back trust, leading with a more empathetic style. You know, people tend to trust you when you're a bit more empathetic. It's not like that executive that walks in the room and then it gets really tense and you shy up and you don't want to say anything when you have that trust in that that that level of empathy, your employees, your your coworkers just kind of tend to gravitate and, you know, will reach out to you and probably be more receptive to whatever you're working on.
Yeah, no, it's you totally took that one that I was going to say that one as well. That one totally resonated with me. It's, it's, it's so key, right, that it's like we, we don't realize that. But I like what you also said, too. Here. I want to clarify. Right. When we think about, you know, we've been talking about teams, right.
And that's the first layer executive presence. You have to have that within your team. But then there's that next layer is I do have that same level of authority, respect people. Look up to you outside of your team. And that is where I feel that, you know, it's it's easy to start within your team. It's you know, if you have a high trust team, the relationship with your team, things are, you know, 100% working.
Well. The next thing, though, is can you also do the same with everybody? Other teams within your organization, people you haven't met? Right. They don't know who you are. But the thing about it is like there are things that you can do to to demonstrate that it is simple as is when you think about somebody who has executive presence and you first time you meet them, soon as they walk into a room, they're not the ones saying, Hey, hi, how's it going?
I'm the most important person in the room. Here is my name Ted or I have a corner office. I'm so-and-so throwing titles, throwing stuff? No, they're they come in and they go and introduce themselves to everybody in the room, not just the people that they know they don't walk towards. And this is the thing that we're so comfortable in going and sitting next to our team.
I mean, I'll be honest, I'm the first to do that because I know who they are. I know them. I build trust with them. And again, I mean, I'm in my comfort zone, but it's also have executive presence. I can get out of their comfort zone and build new relationships, introduce themselves walking. Hey, how you doing? My name is the what's your name?
How you know, getting to know people and walking across right away. You're going, who is this person that they're going out of their way to introduce themselves? That I feel like it's the next level, right? It's like, wow. And even though you haven't built the high trust relationship, you're starting the foundations of trust. Yeah, I couldn't agree more.
And just a your you're going back to what you were saying with your comfortability. You know you gravitate towards your team but getting out of your comfort zone, that's really kind of in the makings of that executive presence. You know, you have to it's not just dealing with the people that, you know, it's trying to involve everybody and having that bigger picture.
Yeah, And I love that you said it's the beginning of that. I love that because it is those building blocks, right? If you're able to start feeling more comfortable being uncomfortable in getting to know, it's like, you know, this this this individual is different than everybody else. Everybody did their own things that with their own but their with their group of teammates or friends or whoever this person is like, out of their way, Hey, how are you doing?
And then they smile that they're open, the first foundation of trust. And then, of course, you talked about the acronym of ROC, which is pretty cool. You know, there's different models and things you can measure here. Just another one, right? And I love that it's all about first of all, it's, you know, you're reliable. Can I can can I rely on you to do things?
Are you going to do what you promised to say? Are you open? You open to have discussions, conversations open. In that sense, I think those are two amazing. First steps is, hey, I can you're you're going to do what you say you're going to do and you're going to be open and transparent and upfront with me. And then the rest, which is what are the other ones that stood out to you on those?
Yeah. Rock. Yeah. So for rock, so for the last two, you know, the caring and compassion, you know, leading with empathy, you know, having that, that ability to mold into that style if you need to. She also talks a little bit about, you know, having different styles at different times. So, you know, we can we can visit that as well.
Sometimes there or there will be instances, I'm sure, where you have to go in a war room. And it's you know, it's not all fun. You know, nobody's having fun in that instance. And you kind of have to be a little firmer and say, hey, you know, we're here to handle business. Like, let's let's get on task. Exactly.
And then the last one is competency, right? Do the individuals do you have that level of competency? Can you carry out the job? Can you do what is being asked? Can you carry out the task? Can you either push it to the next level or keep things going? Yeah, and I now want to clarify that too, because when we think of competency, what we have to know is that you have the skills, the ability, Right.
But don't get that confused. It's not about I do. You know it. All right. Competencies mean that you're competent in leading a competent in, you know, being in a position of authority, making direction and making decisions, but also knowing that you're not the smartest person in the room. And I think that goes back to open and honest. Sure.
You know, I'm open and honest. Hey, I've never done anything like this. Let me hear what you have to say. Let me hear your ideas. How are you going to solve this together? But ultimately, they're going to look at you and be like, what do you would we do that? It's like, okay, well, based on what I heard, this is direction we're going to take.
Unless anybody says otherwise. Whatever. Right. So competency, again, just to clarify, say, doesn't mean that you know it all, that you have all the answers. It means that you're competent in leading, competent and being confident and understanding what's going on and also being competent and knowing that you don't know it all as well. Right. So I want to clarify that as well, because too, you're not too smart and you know that you're not the smartest person in the room.
It's the one that think they know it all, that lose that credibility. Yeah. And I'm so glad you said that, because even though you may not know every answer to every question or, you know, and you you've identified, I'm not the smartest person in the room. I know that. But you find the right people to be able to carry out those tasks, be able to do the job to get to that next level, to, you know, accomplish whatever you're trying to achieve.
Yeah, yeah. You've got the you surround yourself with the right people, the people that can do the execute and do the things, collaborate, work. I mean, that's that's it's like a I feel like it's a well-oiled machine or a nice orchestra. Just everybody's doing their part and it's just sounds and you're making beautiful music together. That's awesome. Yeah.
So yeah. And again, at this one model, there's, you know, several I talked about before, whether it's that, you know, the model of the credibility tree where you know, somebody with integrity, with good intent, you're capable and of course you, you know, deliver results. So again, there's so many out there. But just understanding, are you giving somebody that that they that we can trust and building that high trust relationship.
So again, to say the presence we're going to there's a lot more to discuss there, but there's still some of those foundations around that. We then asked her another question. Right. Is she she followed up because you brought it up. Are you leading with fear early on with love, Right. Or empathy. And I think that's super important to distinguish.
So let's go into that and unpack that and we'll we'll talk about that some more. The second thing is, when you are thinking about how you build your presence, you also need to define that by meeting the love or empathy. So that is your determination factor, because then your persona about how you show up, that all comes to you in the current 21st century.
Most of the leaders need to need that empathy. Otherwise they're all alone because the Gen-X and the Gen Z, they love leaders who are leading that empathy and love, and they care about the client and the people and also profits for the company that you care about that. So your a requirement is to be the leader that can be like that empathy.
And I know all the inside the leaders have this persona that love and empathy, which is phenomenal. Yeah. So again, to again to talk about the distinguish and the two different types. Right. And yeah it's it doesn't it doesn't trans translate well anymore like it used to, you know back then That's what I was expected as that's the way businesses run.
That's all they knew. But as times have changed and she brought up Gen Z next, Gen Z, I think she forgot millennials because I'm like, Hey, what about me or Millennial? We have things, expectations and what we look at and what we respect and what we see as credible has changed a lot. You know, I don't think nowadays, but nobody's going to want to work for an organization or leader that leads with with fear.
Yeah, Yeah. And to your point, I mean, even, you know, try says that, you know, they want to work for somebody who cares about the, you know, planet, about their employees, about, you know, different things and not just bottom line. Right. And that's such an important thing to going back to building trust to being able to expand upon that, to, you know, just really having your team like trust you and leading and and essentially keeping it, you know, without that having that creating that atmosphere with tension and, you know, where people can really come to you and talk to you and tell you, you know, what's going on in the organization.
I know we mentioned that, you know, it's such an important piece to be able to have somebody be able to come up to you and say, hey, look, I think these might be some issues, you know, within the organization and not have either your hand slapped or you feel like, oh, man, I better never say that again because I don't want to feel this way.
I don't want my leader to treat me this way. And it's such an important thing to to actually develop that trust and build that and maintain that. Yeah, no, it's a good call. I think it's one of those things where, you know, if you go into a meeting with whoever that individual is, that leader and you just check, check your, you know, check yourself and how you feel going into that meeting.
If you're going in and you're, you know, say you're worried about your presentation or giving updates and it's it's it's natural, right? Like you want to do a good job, you want to press. But if you go into that meeting fearful of that individual right, of what they're going to say, how they're going to make you feel, then that's not a good sign.
Right? Right. And how would you know that, though, as a as a as a leader, how would you find that out? Well, here's here's a tip, right? Is one of the one of the things you want to be mindful of is that you have to you have to be aware of your surroundings when you go into your meeting next time, pay attention to see how your team or the people around are reacting.
Right? Sometimes we're just clueless. You know, we go in and that's why you need to work on your you know, maybe you're leaning by fear a little bit. If you just walk in and you're all about business, stoic, straight face, or is this report, your tone is you know, you're showing passion by showing passion towards results, numbers. Right.
Bottom line. Then again, that's just saying you're probably leading with fear because that's all that's that's that's telling your team that that's all you care about. I cares about the numbers. I cares about getting this done. And everybody else is not important. But if you go in and you're paying attention and you're and you come in and you smile, you notice people smile when you come in, they give you eye contact, they they stand up and they look excited that you're there.
They again, you just can see their reaction. So pay attention to the reactions that you're getting. And if you haven't done that, start doing that because that's going to give you that's a big indicator of how your you know, how you're coming across. Another thing, too, is that how are you taking the time to really connect with individuals and seeing people as individuals instead of a whole?
Right. I thought example I said earlier, you mentioned you walk into a room, you introduce yourself a virtual virtual world, Right. Are you are you there early? And as people are coming in, are you talking to people? You know, typically what I see happen is somebody arrives early. They put the size of a camera, they turn off their mic and they're just sitting there waiting for somebody to say something.
That's a sign of executive presence. Right. Which is, okay, if that's what you're doing now. But if you want to work on that, hey, get comfortable. Turn on your video. Welcome, people. Hey, good morning. Thanks for joining. Yeah, we have we're not going to start yet, but, you know, we'll just wait for everybody to join, interact with them, get to know them, find out where they're at, what do they do, get start their small talk.
And as more start coming in, make sure that you acknowledge everyone. The last thing you want to do right is somebody join you, acknowledge a few, and you miss the rest. Again, going back to that example, you're going to gravitate to people you know, don't you know, You had to get to know new people, right? So those are just again, some little, little elements there that you that you can start working on today to build that executive presence.
Well, what are some other things that you've noticed regarding So again, we talked about that high trust leaning by fear, leading by love. What are some things that you've seen from, you know, leaders and stuff that you know are positive things, things that you notice makes them different than the rest? Yeah. So kind of back to you mentioning you take the time to, you know, interact with everyone, right.
And care about them on a personal level. And I think people are much more receptive to that, especially nowadays because, you know, you, you it shows that you're not only caring about the business aspect, but you care about me as an individual. And I know just from my personal standpoint, I know that makes me want to work harder for that individual.
It makes me want to give 110%, you know, do the best of my abilities, you know, just kind of go above and beyond. So if any anytime they're asking for help with, you know, X, Y, or Z, of course, I'm like, yeah, absolutely. I'll help you any day, you know, And it just lends itself to that. So, yeah, it's like going back to your example of, you know, how can I help or how can I serve.
Sure. Right. It's like someone, someone is helping me help out whatever I can. Now, it's like not thinking that other task people circumstances are below you right? Right. That's not a good sign. You know, it's like, oh, that's, you know, I'm at this level. I don't do that anymore. It's like, no, sure, I'll be happy to. You know what?
You know, you need you need some coffee. I get that. You know, I'm heading there right now. I'll get that for you. Those little little gestures again builds a high trust team that, you know, you're not above anybody or anything. Right? Right. So a couple of their tips. There are other other advice, right? When it comes to you know, we talked about that.
You don't know know everything. You're not the smartest person in the room. You're constantly someone who has executive presence and things that you can start doing to develop your executive presence is be comfortable with feedback, not only giving it, but also seeking it out, receiving it. If you're constantly doing that, it tells others that you are always learning and you're always looking to improve yourself as well, and that you're not perfect by doing that, that opens a door for the rest and others around you to also share and give and receive feedback.
That is an amazing way. Not only again, you're also building a high trust team, but you people look up to you and respect you for that and there can be more open or receptive to hear your feedback. Right in the beginning I could be like, Oh gosh, what I did wrong. But now it's like, you know what? Every time, which is ask for a feedback.
It's actually making me better. And he cares about my my development, my presentations, my whatever feedback you're giving me is because you're trying to make me a better person. And more important. I love what Chaitra said as well as, you know, even just asking people, I want to build a high trust relationship with you. Hey, I want to help you become the best presentations.
I want to help you in developing the skill. And if you're open, I would love to give you feedback to get you there. Boom! Oh my gosh. Please, like help me. Right? So that's another tip is, you know, be open, give feedback, but receive it abundantly as well. Sure. Yeah. And you know, back to that, that point of, you know, just having that blanket statement.
Right. Coming to the table with that and being open with that, like I'm here to help you. This is what I my intentions are X, my intentions are y. You know that that right there will build all the trust in the world just in that statement alone. And then following through with those actions and all the many other steps that we've that we've discussed, you know.
Yeah, no, and I love that last part about the intentions, man. This is as simple as saying that they're really just steps to, you know, assuming, like, why did they say that? What is, what is their intent? You just stated, you know, now you had to follow through. Yeah. So I know we're coming to the end. I know she Chaitra had a final thought, right?
So let's see what she had to say and then we'll wrap up our session the final thought Ensure that your executive presence is a leadership platform that you have built in ages. Your platform you have to invest time and resources to really build it, start taking micro action and every day of work on it. As simple as writing a gratitude statement for your own self and giving yourself a credit that your work is very important.
Coming to the world is a very positive state of mind. It's important to have community. We would love to host you. We want to celebrate you. We want you to be part of that dinner. So we want you to be part of the Hollywood movie experiences. Well, part of the educational stuff we're putting and also be part of this conversation where we can work together as a unit and build a very close relationship between organizations.
So you all get to go together because there's a lot of work in the world that needs to be solved for and each and every one of you, a superpower is very important to make the world a better place than it is today. So one big takeaway I have from that immediately that just kind of jumps right out at me when she said this was, you know, take take the micro actions, they could be tiny.
Something is, you know, having a gratitude journal, writing down something, expressing your gratitude on a daily something as small as that. Just take the action that small action will build upon itself over time, over months, over weeks, you know, what have you. And you know, that will really make a difference. That'll show you that you're going in the right direction, that you're doing this for a purpose.
You're doing you're in leadership or you're wanting to aspire to become a leader for for all the right reasons. Well said. And start taking action. Micro actions, little steps of it's you know, gratitude journal if it's working on you know introducing yourself to new people getting yourself out of those get yourself a little bit uncomfortable in those situations where it's like, I'm going to go ahead and start doing these steps.
A lot of action items, a lot as we discussed. So really just come down and just start start doing it, get in there, start executing and working on that executive presence. Yeah. So today we talked about what executive presence is, how trust plays into executive presence and what those key ingredients are. See, is there anything you want to add to them?
No, I think again, I can't wait. So working on your executive presence today and if you'd like to hear more on Charter's leadership style and executive presence, be sure to visit Inside.com and Search Insight Alumni page to find out more information. There.
Z Tinoco is a diversity, leadership & organization development manager who believes in building teams, inspiring minds and creating authentic connections. He helps people reach their goals and find success through humor, leadership and a diverse mindset.
Richard is an experienced paid media specialist with a proven track record of creating and executing successful campaigns across various platforms. Richard has a passion for tackling new challenges, connecting with people and loves all things tech.