March 2014
In This Issue
What is Executive Presence?
Executive Presence May 2014
Metacommunication: Guest article by Cher Williscroft
Free Podcasts: At the Heart of the Matter

Executive Presence


What is Executive Presence?
As a leader, you are the person people look to for guidance and direction, and you need to step up and be that person. How you do this is over to you.


Your executive presence encompasses both the role or position you hold, and how you enact this role. Both are central to your identity.  


Your executive presence reflects how you convey your identity to those around you.

Knowing who you are and how you impact people are significant elements of your Presence.


How do those around you experience you? Would they experience you as into the detail, micro managing, or that their interactions with you are considered and thoughtful?


Do people experience you as inspirational or autocratic? Do those around you experience you as keenly interested in them and how they go about what they are doing or do they experience a lack of care, more that you are only interested in achieving outcomes?


Leaders who are unaware of their capabilities, or distracted or are silent on important matters tend to be perceived as invisible. These people are the faceless men and women in our organisations, and they tend to have little executive presence. They may have considerable political nous, but little presence in that those around them don't know what they stand for or what or who is important to them.

Executive presence reflects your capacity to balance your technical and professional competence, and includes at least five elements: your relationships, authenticity, credibility, identity and reputation (RACIR). Now these elements are invisible and yet each one is influential in creating how you are perceived by others.


Executive presence includes your ability to both know and accept your capacities alongside your vision for creating a positive future by being in relationship with both the people and situations you are currently in.


One effect of Executive Presence is to create mutual (two-way) relationships. You know when you are with someone with executive presence. You want to hear from them, and you want to find out more from them.


How do you develop Executive Presence? Or is it something leaders are born with?


Increasing your executive presence relates to the personal aspects of your professional identity. A starting point is being aware of how you impact others and knowing whether this creates the presence relevant to your current position and what you are wanting to achieve.


Executive Presence requires leaders to go beyond feedback and really discover how they impact others. They learn to see themselves through the eyes of others. This assists in two ways. Firstly, as leaders they develop a greater understanding and appreciation of the needs of those around them, and secondly they see and accept how they are perceived. This in itself assists leaders modify their responses. Leaders learn to tailor their message and approach to suit the stakeholders, the current situation and the outcome they are seeking.


As leaders develop their presence, what are some of the goals they set themselves? Here are a few from a recent programme:

  • Make positive first impressions without needing content
  • Swiftly make myself known in groups.
  • To have strong mutual relationships with peers and staff, across the public sector and beyond
  • Taking risks when the stakes are high reputationally, when someone pushes back on my view, I chose my response
  • Be approachable, influential and easy to work with
  • The first impressions people I haven't met previously are left with is that I come across as attentive, open, authoritative and trustworthy

How do these sound to you? To me, these are inspirational goals. Mostly those who set these goals would have no idea how they would achieve them, but they do have a vision and a sense of who they want to be as leaders.


In the Executive Presence programme we identify how you would know if you were successful in achieving your goals. Here are some success measures leaders have identified:

  • I am sought after to lead cross government projects.
  • I hold my ground and my relationships when peers push back and we progress the business at hand together
  • Peers, bosses and stakeholders seek me out for my views

If you are interested in developing your Executive Presence, contact Diana and participate in one of my programmes.

 The leadership development programme for experienced senior leaders.....


'Executive Presence has had the biggest impact on how I lead  and influence outside my line, of anything I've done in years'  MS 


'Executive Presence is a highly targeted, tailored and impactful programme and Diana is a masterful coach. Diana cuts through all of the clutter and goes to the heart of what will make a difference for me in managing and leading from the front.'  TT  

 We are taking enrolments for May and August 2014 now


 To discuss your participation and enrol: email Diana Jones 

Guest article by Cher Williscroft 




Good communicators take care to get their message across so it is received as it is intended by using a communication skill called metacommunication. As a result they have more influence and receive more cooperation. It is critical to metacommunicate when you want to successfully discuss something tricky that has the potential to trigger a reactive response in your listener. 


When you approach another person for a conversation or a request it is important that you communicate about the communication before you actually communicate.  This process of warm up is called metacommunication. When you metacommunicate you make a link with the person so they are more ready to receive your actual communication. As you approach a person, take a moment to observe how ready they are to receive your communication. It is highly likely they are absorbed in their own area of work and not even thinking about what is on your mind.


Pause! You need to say something that prepares your listener.

Metacommunication ensures that you send your message when the listener is prepared and ready to receive it.


Other names for meta-communication

  • Headlines
  • Sign posts
  • Flags
  • Introducing a conversation or the communication
  • Warm up
  • Lead in

Benefits of metacommunication

  • Builds a link and makes a foundation for the communication that will follow.
  • Gives the `receiver' an introduction to the communication that is about to follow so they are prepared with the purpose, intentions and structure of what you are about to say.
  • Helps a `receiver' to get on your wavelength or frequency.
  • Relaxes the receiver, and helps them to pay attention.
  • You can relax and think clearly because you have a structure which helps you to think and plan

Example of metacommunication used at the beginning of a conversation

For instance if you want some help with a report say ` Hi George, I have a request'  then pause as George absorbs this, next say `its about last month's report' , again pause.  Maybe it's obvious George is busy so ask `is now a good time?'.  Up until this point you have been metacommunicating and now George is more ready to receive your communication. If George appears ready to receive your request, now you can communicate by saying ` it's about last month's data, do you have a moment to check some figures for me?'


How else is metacommunication used?

Metacommunication is also used extensively to structure a conversation so your listener hears clearly what you have to say. For instance

  • Let me ask you a few questions so I am clear 
  • I will give you my opinion and then I would like to hear your response to my ideas 
  • Let's discuss this situation...

If you want to learn more on metacommunication, systems perspectives and moving from details to the big picture, talk with Diana or come to Cher and Diana's workshop Leadership and Vitality in Organisations 

New : Free Podcasts: 

At the Heart of the Matter


My podcasts are:  

This month's podcasts are:


Doing too much
Highlighting what might cause leaders to take on too much in the first place.

Conducting Difficult Conversations
Diana discusses the nature of difficult conversations and offers frameworks and tips on how to conduct these.

Psychological Resilience
Diana identifies four main challenges her clients face and dives in to the first of those areas, psychological resistance.

Mapping Complex Issues
Diana discusses her approach when assisting her clients approach complex issues. 
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