I’m skipping around with my lesson…confidence is the next trait in the sequence, but I’m giving myself the confidence to change my own lesson in order to focus on credibility.
Throughout my career, I’ve noticed a trend within myself: when I first start a new role at a new company, I’m very timid. In some ways, this is a good thing – no one likes the newcomer to come in and question everything day one. Newcomers lack context and I’ve found that the most effective managers, colleagues, etc. take at least 90 days to start speaking up and questioning process…
On the other hand, my timidness probably lasts a bit too long and may form an impression that I’m overly shy or my silence is me being in over my head and lacking credibility.
However, it never fails, within 18-24 months, I begin feeling comfortable and I’m speaking up in a way which I think encapsulate executive presence. But it still feels unnatural. Fast forward another year or so, I’m speaking up with a little more Ashley swag. Fast forward again, I find my presence. I’ve asked myself why this is and have come to one conclusion: credibility enables authenticity.
When I/we can lean into our authentic selves, you’re burning less mental calories on your delivery by trying to fit a certain image of what we think a credible person is and spending more time thinking about substance. For me, my colleagues know that I may ramble, sometimes I may be short, sometimes I can’t find the right words, maybe I’ll stutter or use the wrong analogy, but I hope they feel they can count on me bringing value to a conversation. They learn to accept my flaws because they can excuse the lack of beauty since I’ve proven I have some substance.
That realization has been a pivotal moment in finding my executive presence. And what’s more important, it’s not executive presence we need to strive for, it’s authenticity in order to give us presence; simply having a presence is enough.
Let’s stop striving for a boxed-in image of what an executive is, looks like, acts and let’s just aim to be people with substance who lean into their authenticity, with confidence. And confidence is the next lesson…