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Alumni in Action

EdgeUp: Developing Executive Presence to Achieve Business & People Results

By Alumni Relations

May 6, 2022

When advancing in your career, the skills, behaviors, and mindsets of “executive presence” are must-haves to inspire confidence and build quality relationships with team members. Defining an authentic and personal executive presence is essential to becoming a successful leader. During this EdgeUp webinar, Taura Prosek (BBA ’93) explores a four-part framework to improve individual executive presence. This framework is focused on determining how you show up, how you decide, how you manage emotions, and how you inspire.

How you show up

A compelling leader communicates with others in a manner that balances projecting confidence and professionalism with valuing authenticity and personal style. Quality executive presence requires clear verbal and non-verbal communication. The way a leader communicates gives others a good sense of how they conduct themselves, and what they can expect from them in the future. Three ways a leader can show that they are communicating with presence and intention are active listening, making eye contact when speaking with others, and using positive body language.

How you decide

Effective leaders make decisions that ensure their teams deliver excellence and achieve results. Providing clear expectations to employees, having a clear point of view, and seeking multiple perspectives can help leaders come across more confident, competent, and decisive. Prosek states that it is important to define the problem clearly before trying to solve it, and she encourages leaders to be intentional about making employees feel that their opinions and feedback are valued in the problem solving process. 

How you manage emotions

Good leaders manage their emotions in order to build trust and be viewed as a role model by those in their organizations. One key aspect of executive presence is knowing how to act with emotional intelligence. Psychologist Daniel Goleman, as quoted by Prosek, defines emotional intelligence as “your ability to recognize, understand, and use the role of emotions to manage yourself and your relationship with others.” Being aware of emotions improves self-awareness, motivation, empathy, and social skills. Those who are emotionally intelligent embrace change, let go of mistakes, and neutralize toxic people.

How you inspire

Motivating a team requires more than a compelling vision; a leader who can effectively energize a team and engage others in their vision will find great success when navigating change. Communicating a clear compelling vision that aligns with a mission’s organization is critical. It’s important that teams understand the “why” behind the organization and its mission, as people are more engaged when they feel aligned with the purpose behind actions. Constructive leaders inspire employees by utilizing storytelling to connect, build trust, and create a high performance environment.

Taura Prosek (BBA ’93), is an executive consultant and coach with Stewart Leadership and specializes in executive presence, leadership, and career coaching. Prior to joining Stewart Leadership, she worked for the Wisconsin School of Business, Cielo Talent, and GE Healthcare, in the areas of finance, sales, and talent acquisition and development. Prosek is a Gallup-Certified Strengths coach, Stewart-Certified in LEAD NOW!, and is PCC level certified with the International Coaching Federation. She has an MBA from Kellogg at Northwestern University and a BBA from the Wisconsin School of Business at UW–Madison.