Increasing Your Executive Presence

Consistently demonstrating and reinforcing your worth as a highly valued organizational asset

“It turns out that there are specific cognitive aptitudes that to a large extent determine whether an executive succeeds or fails.”

Justin Menkes

– Greater Executive Presence Creates Greater Leadership Impact

LeadershipTraction frames much of its work in the context of the research of Justin Menkes, author of Executive Intelligence, who identified three ‘central contexts’ that anyone in a supervisory, managerial, or leadership capacity – or with such aspirations – must focus on to be truly successful. I like to consider them three stages of the leadership development and maturation process:

  • Stage 1 – Getting Things Done
  • Stage 2 – Working With, And Through, Other People
  • Stage 3 – Recognizing Your Impact and Modifying Your Behaviors

the three stages of executive intelligence

Most executives are already fairly proficient in the first stage – Getting Things Done. Indeed, they’d likely never have been promoted into the executive ranks if they weren’t. But even as just a review, leaders still benefit when the LeadershipTraction coaching process helps them sharpen their abilities to:

  • Appropriately define a problem and differentiate essential objectives from less relevant concerns.
  • Anticipate likely obstacles to achieving objectives and identify sensible means to circumvent them.
  • Critically examine the accuracy of the underlying assumptions being relied on.
  • Articulate the strengths and weaknesses of the suggestions or arguments posed by others.
  • Recognize what is known a bout an issue, what more needs to be known, and how best to obtain the relevant and accurate information needed.
  • Use multiple perspectives to identify likely unintended consequences of various action-plans.

Many are capable in the second stage of Executive Intelligence – Working With, And Through, Other People – but meaningful improvements typically result from the LeadershipTraction coaching process that helps them to more consistently:

  • Recognize the conclusions that can and cannot be drawn from a particular exchange.
  • Recognize the likely underlying agendas and motivations of individuals and groups that are involved in a situation.
  • Anticipate the likely emotional reactions of individuals to actions or communications.
  • Accurately identify the core issues and perspectives that are central to a conflict.
  • Appropriately consider the probable effects and likely unintended consequences that may result from taking a particular course of action.
  • Recognize and balance the different needs of all relevant stakeholders.
  • Leverage the full 360° of Directional Leadership

The third stage of Executive Intelligence – Recognizing Your Impact and Modifying Your Behaviors, Accordingly – is the often the trickiest to improve upon because it’s the most personal. Here, the LeadershipTraction coaching process fosters the type of meaningful dialog that enables executives, vice presidents, directors, middle-managers, and up-and-coming new leaders to:

  • Pursue and encourage feedback that may reveal an error in judgment and them name appropriate adjustments.
  • Demonstrate an ability to recognize one’s own personal biases or limitations in perspective, and use this understanding to improve one’s own thinking and plans for action.
  • Recognize when serious flaws in one’s own ideas or actions require swift public acknowledgement of the mistake and a dramatic change in direction.
  • Appropriately articulate the essential flaws in the arguments of others, and reiterate the strengths of one’s own position.
  • Recognize when it is appropriate to resist the objections of others and remain committed to a sound course of action.

The bottom line is that Executive Intelligence is the “stuff” that determines if a leader will thrive … or fail – and by extension, whether a work group, team, department, division, or company will thrive or fail.

Assess Your Executive Intelligence and Promotability

The Executive Intelligence/Promotability Index (ex-I/P) is based, in large part, on the work of Justin Menkes, and his book, Executive Intelligence (HarperCollins Publishers, 2005). Through his research, Menkes determined that there are 17 “specific cognitive aptitudes” spanning three “central contexts” – the accomplishment of tasks, working with and through other people, and judging oneself and adapting one’s behavior accordingly – that can readily predict whether executives will ultimately succeed or fail in their work.

Whether it’s for the purposes of affecting organizational change or improving a colleague’s opinion of you, commitment planning, plays a central role. As such, the work of Richard Beckhard and Reuben T. Harris, Organizational Transitions: Managing Complex Change (Addison-Wesley Publishing Company, 1987) is also applied in this survey. As is the research findings reported in Now, Discover Your Strengths, by Marcus Buckingham and Donald O. Clifton (The Free Press, 2001) embedded in the application section of this assessment.

ex-I/P Versions

There are two versions of the ex-I/P:

  1. The Executive Intelligence/Promotability Index-360°(ex-I/P-360°) – this multi-rater assessment solicits feedback from your peers, direct reports, and more senior leaders in your organization as to what type of leader you are and your readiness for additional responsibilities and authority. This assessment includes a 1½-to 2-hour, 1-on-1, debriefing/review by telephone, to help you make sense of – and derive the most value from – it’s reported findings.
  2. The Executive Intelligence/Promotability Index-Individual (ex-I/P-I)– this self-assessment helps identify the gaps in your own planning and thinking as a leader, and self-perceptions as to your readiness for additional responsibilities and authority. The ex-I/P-I includes the 45-to-60-minute, 1-on-1, debriefing/review by telephone, to help you make sense of – and derive the most value from – its reported findings.

“I learned so much from the ex~I/P assessment…things about myself that pretty much everyone else already knew, I’m embarrassed to say. But now that I know, too, I can actually do something about it.”

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