The Positive Energy Workplace 5 Ways to Optimize Your Executive Presence

"I'm a top performer, I'm doing really well, our company is hitting our targets, but apparently people think I'm a jerk and I don't know why."

This from a rock star who was killing it in results at her company but also leaving "dead bodies" and a trail of tissues behind with her team.

This is not uncommon--I see it all the time. Great performance, wicked talent, awesome people with unintended impact. An easy fix if the person wants it to be.

I can tell the quality of a person's leadership and the quality of the culture (team, organizational or both) he or she is creating by three things:

  1. their presence and how they "show up,"
  2. the regard and size of the "container" they hold for others, and,
  3. their willingness to tell themselves the truth, be accountable for their impact, and create what they want.

These are no small three things, so for now, let's hit up the first one, which ties into self-management and presence, or, as I like to call it, "IEP." IEP, or intentional energetic presence, is the secret sauce that makes or breaks leadership impact. It's in play all the time--whether you know it or not. When I get phone calls from brilliant people who are feeling burned out, or who aren't quite having the impact they want to have and can't figure out why, nine times out of 10 it has something to do with their IEP (or lack thereof).

There are two sides to IEP, the internal (how you feel, your energy levels, your own level of joy and space) and the external (how you make other people feel, your presence, your ability to have people follow you because they want to, not because they have to). The external side of IEP is where most people see leadership, but the internal side is feeding that all of the time--it is the foundation for leadership. The stronger the internal, the easier and more powerful the external. It's a dance.

This dance is constantly happening through one's degree of intention, through one's energy and self-care, and through one's quality of presence with people, not only in being "with them" and present to them, but also in how one experiences them in their physical presence and the "vibe" they exude (which is really just their underlying attitude, intention, and energy).

Here are five ways to optimize your executive presence so that your IEP is not only supporting and authentic to you, but also inviting to others.

1. Your physical presence.

How do you show up physically? Pay attention to your facial expressions, your posture, your breathing, your tone.

2. Your mental presence.

How present are you in the moment, with this person, and this conversation, and even with this article, right now? Get present.

3. Your emotional presence.

How present are you to what's happening in your life? Are you experiencing your life and allowing for emotional authenticity? Repressed emotions have a way of projecting themselves, often at the oddest times. Give yourself space to feel.

4. Your level of accountability.

Is your life happening to you? Or are you happening to it? Are things always "their" fault? Be accountable when you contribute to poor results, tensions in relationships, or simply not getting what you want--you are playing a part.

5. Your intent.

How intentional are you about your impact, how you want people to feel around you, who you want to be, and about how you want to experience your life? Set some intentions. And notice what and how you intend for others. A little intention goes a long way.

These areas all contribute to internal and external presence, and therefore one's effectiveness and power as a leader and human being. While finding the places where we contribute to our own problems or negative impact and presence can be daunting, and even painful at times, it can also be incredibly liberating--because, as we lead ourselves, we have the choice to change it. Ready? Go.

// This article first appeared on January 12, 2015 on

// Image credit: Getty Images.

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