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N. Elizabeth Fried, Ph.D.

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The Executive Coaching Corner:  Executive Presence Series

August 19, 2014  Blog Series 2 of 9:  Executive Presence:  Your Personal Brand

Your Personal Brand

 In the last issue I discussed the current research on executive presence.  The researchers determined there were three universal components of executive presence: 

         How you act (gravitas)

         How you speak  (communication)

         How you look (appearance) 

Based on this research, where should you begin your individual development plan for learning the right skills? A good place to start is to identify your own personal brand and ask yourself the following questions: Who do I want to become? How do I want to be seen? What do I want people to think of when they think about me as a person? For example, as an executive coach, my personal brand is to be known as a trusted professional, who is insightful, authentic, and compassionate. Those qualities drive my everyday actions.  

Take a moment and think about yourself and who you want to become. Begin by listing as many qualities as you can. As you review your list, you may find there are some redundancies or subsets of a broader quality. For example, if you listed professional and ethical, typically someone who is a professional is ethical (at least one would hope that would be the case.) So youíll want to combine any duplicates. Take a moment to review and combine your items. Next, select the top three or four.  

Now that you have your top items, you have a framework to develop and expand your executive presence. In other words, you now have a track to run on to build your skills. You can select courses to study, get mentors to help you, or do whatever is necessary to move forward. Thatís the good news. Hereís the bad news. Even though you have a track to run on, unfortunately you could encounter obstacles that could throw you off track.   


Most of us know what to do, but we donít always do what we know. For example, we all know that eating junk food is unhealthy, but many of us still eat it. We know that exercise is good for us, but we may not do it. Why? Itís either not that important to us, or because change is hardóplain and simple.  

What can you do to overcome your natural reaction to resist facing your challenges head on? One way is to ask for feedback and have someone hold you accountable who genuinely cares about your success. I often have my clients read Marshall Goldsmithís book What Got You Here Wonít Get You There (2007). Goldsmithís premise is that your current skills brought you to where you are, but if you want to move further, you need to develop new skills. And, the way to do that is to not only ask for feedback, but also ask for feedforward so you know what to do to get better. 

How does feedback help you? You need to know what you donít know, because what you donít know can stunt and even derail your career. So, to overcome this obstacle, find an accountability partner. You can hire a coach, but you donít have to. Consider finding some trusted colleagues. When they provide feedback and feedforward, itís critical that you check your ego at the door and be open and non-defensive. Try to see this through the lens of feedback as a gift. Be grateful, because others are putting themselves out there to be helpful. They could choose to say nothing and just let you restrict your career progression on your own.

 Stay tuned:  In the next insertion we'll discuss some additional derailers.  Stay tuned..

For additional one to two-minute sessions on other topics,  go to the Executive Coaching Corner Archive.