Executive presence is not just for executives. Your team must learn to tell their story. You can help.
A Familiar Story
You want your team to perform well in front of senior leadership. They’ve practiced their elevator speeches. But, when the exec shows up, they get nervous and eat their shoe. Nerves block circulation. Frightened tongues babble. Your phone rings and you spend the next 20 minutes explaining that Joe really is smarter than he looks—damaging your credibility while trying to salvage his.
Even frontline teams need to learn executive presence.
Executive Presence Simplified
In my world, executives spend lots of time in the field observing and talking to teams— mostly unannounced. It’s a great way to stay close to the business.
They look for knowledge, service, culture and execution.
One of my teams was notorious for “bad visits.” Until, almost overnight the visits got better. Results improved. Reputations were saved.
I took the leader to lunch. “Every visit’s been great! What changed?” He smiled, ‘it’s the green jacket effect.”
“I’ve been practicing with the team. We have all the store managers take turns visiting one another’s stores wearing a really ugly green jacket. The jacket triggers a simulation of an executive visit. Whoever is wearing the green jacket is to be treated like the executive visitor. We practice controlling the story. Practice helps. They are less nervous. They can now explain their results, articulate their action plans, and recognize their best performers. It’s an elevator speech on steroids.”
Tips for a Great Green Jacket Experience
- Greet them proactively with a firm handshake (demonstrate that you’re glad they came)
- Proactively explain your numbers and the reasons behind them
- Start with your opportunities and articulate key actions
- Share your creative approaches to implementing key initiatives
- Introduce them to other employees, and share something unique each person is doing
- Recognize a few people for their “wow” contributions
- Talk about your challenges and how they can help
- Share ideas for improved processes and how you are pursuing them
- Take active notes on all suggestions
- Send a thank you email summarizing all follow-up items