Ready for the C-Suite? 6 Mistakes That Can Damage Your Executive Presence
Black Enterprise Magazine September/October 2018 Issue

If you have your eyes on an executive position or the “C-suite,” take note: Competency is not enough to claim the corner office. Climbing the corporate ladder of success requires a combination of skill, emotional intelligence, and unshakable self-confidence. So, are you really prepared to take the lead? It all boils down to how you carry yourself at work and connect with the people around you.

 6 mistakes that can damage your executive presence and C-suite potential 

  • Not keeping cool under pressure –A big part of executive presence is understanding how people view you as a leader. So take note, rarely will employees respect the authority or vision of an unhinged leader. Staying calm under stressful situations builds trust, credibility, and a positive team culture in the workplace.

 

  • Not polishing your soft skills – As you advance in your career, soft skills like negotiation and presentation skills become increasingly more important than functional skills. For instance, if you’re standing up in front of staff or executives and presenting a status update, be prepared to clearly articulate your challenges and ideas for improvement, ask questions, listen, and accept constructive feedback.

 

  • Not inspiring people to take action – Whether you work at a small organization or large company, change and conflict is inevitable. Beyond maintaining your composure during uncertain times, you’ll need to find the good in a negative situation and empower people to take action.

 

  • Not understanding how your work fits into the bigger picture – Oftentimes, tough decisions are made at work that affects the daily routine of staff, as a leader you’ll be expected to focus on the big picture while rallying employees around the positive and keeping them on track. Also, if you’re looking to get ahead at work, keep track of your numbers. For instance, how has your work impacted the company’s bottom line? That way, during talks of promotion, you can clearly articulate your performance metrics and the value you’ve delivered to the company.

 

  • Not making decisions – One of the quickest ways to fail as a leader is to not make a decision. Indecision is a decision that could affect your ability to reach company goals and inspire your team. Plus, it can kill your opportunity for career advancement.

 

  • Not understanding office politics – Regardless of your industry, there’s a game called “office politics” that’s played in every organization. Office politics include navigating informal social networks and systems of power and influence. When it comes to office politics ask yourself: How are decisions made at this company (take note, it’s not about how you think they should be made)? Who are the key people who influence change at work and filter ideas to the decision makers? How can I build relationships with these people and get them on board with my ideas? Asking for stretch assignments is one way to understand office politics.

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