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EXECUTIVE PRESENCE – 10 Ways to Improve Your Relationships!

EXECUTIVE PRESENCE – 10 Ways to Improve Your Relationships!

by Terri L. Williams


“Being socially connected is our brain’s lifelong passion”
-Matthew Lieberman
Professor of psychology in the UCLA College of Letters and Science

The importance of engaging and establishing relationships with people is an age old tool inprofessional environments. In this light, I pull from the work of Frigyes Karinthy a Hungarian author, playwright, poet, journalist, and translator. He was the first proponent of the six degrees of separation concept, which was first shared in his 1929 short story, Chains. Six degrees of separation is the theory that anyone on the planet can be connected to any other person on the planet through a chain of acquaintances that has no more than five intermediaries.karinthy

In short, the concept is based on the idea that the number of acquaintances grows exponentially with a number of links in the chain. Only a small number of links is required for the set of acquaintances to become the whole human population. By extension, the same term is often used to describe any other setting in which some form of link exists between individual entities in a large set.





The phase also inspired the 1993 film of the same name, Six Degrees of Seperation, where actress Stockard Channing makes the profound statement of how important finding the right six people is to each of us.

Please review the trailer of the film here:

Similarly, in 1936, self-help genre, writer and lecturer Dale Carnegie spelled out his plan for getting what you want from other people by changing your behavior. He expounds on the fundamentals of dealing with people and becoming a great leader. Carnegie developed these principles by drawing from examples of persuasive people in history, such as Abraham Lincoln, and from his own experiences. Since Carnegie wrote his book in 1935, his basic principles are timeless. Today, our formal name for connecting and meeting new people in a professional setting, is referred to as “Networking.”


From an Executive Presence perspective, Networking is an element of Communications. In particular, understanding how much time you have to meet someone and make a positive impact on them today is about the length of time of a sound bite.

Our most famous teacher in regard to communications is American media proprietor, talk show host, actress, producer, and philanthropist Oprah Winfrey. Oprah has always lived by a quote from her favorite poet Maya Angelou, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”




We all deal with a myriad of things to focus our attention. Online communications has become the biggest competitor of relationship development, in particular social media.


Facebook, 1.6 billion users, 91`% are millennials, average use 48 min per day, 3.7 degrees of separation, largely used for personal networking and relationships. Primarily used for engagement and visibility.



twitter     Twitter, 310 million active users, 100 million daily active users, 38% are millennial, 83% of world leaders use twitter to distribute information for industry information, thought leadership, and customer service. Primary use for “visibility not engagement”.



Linkedin, 433 million active users, active in over 200 countries, 70% of active users are outside the US; 17 minutes is average time spent per month; 380 million skills listed; 200 average connections per profile; primarily used for networking, professional development, and growth.



Form the past 80 years, ale Carnegie’s book How to Win Friends and Influence People, we learn that listening to what other people are saying is more important than talking about yourself; how positive reinforcement is the best way to motivate others; and which 12 techniques you can use to make other people believe what you are telling them.

dale c how to win10 Ways to Improve Your Relationships
1. Be genuinely interested in other people.
“The expression one wears on one’s face is far more important than the clothes one wears on one’s back.”
Dale Carnegie

2. Before criticizing someone else, talk about your own mistakes first.
“Criticisms are like homing pigeons. They always return home.”
– Dale Carnegie

3. Don’t criticize, condemn or complain about people.
“The only way I can get you to do anything is by giving you what you want.”
– Dale Carnegie

4. Express your ideas in a dramatic way. Use illustrations and showmanship to get your ideas across.
“Instead of condemning people, let’s try to understand them. Let’s try to figure out why they do what they do. That’s a lot more profitable and intriguing than criticism; and it breeds sympathy, tolerance, and kindness.”
– Dale Carnegie

5. Encourage others to talk about themselves.
“One can win the attention and time and cooperation of even the most sought-after people by becoming genuinely interested in them.”
– Dale Carnegie

6. If you make a mistake, acknowledge it quickly.
“Criticisms are like homing pigeons. They always return home.”
– Dale Carnegie

7. If you want to change others, start with yourself first.
“It isn’t what you have or who you are or where you are or what you are doing that makes you happy or unhappy. It is what you think about it.”
– Dale Carnegie

8. Praise all improvements, no matter how slight.
“Make the other person feel important, and do it sincerely.”
– Dale Carnegie

9. Remember people’s names. A person’s name is the sweetest and most important sound in any language.
“The only way to get the best of an argument is to avoid it.”
– Dale Carnegie

10. To feel important is one of the strongest human desires. Always make others feel important and never undermine anyone’s sense of importance.
“Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.”
– Dale Carnegie

In summary, whether we are 6 degrees of separation apart or experiencing engagements on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn, as human beings we hardwired for connection. Unfortunately, it is not enough to connect with people online there is still a need to meet contacts in person. Personal connections allow you to establish rapport and trust. Successful networking involves meeting new people, collecting information and connecting with “decision makers”, says Orville Pierson, senior vice president of Lee Hecht Harrison, an international career services company.

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Executive Presence: 10 Key Points to Keep Your Ego in Check

Executive Presence:  10 Key Points to Keep Your Ego in Check

egoby Terri L. Williams

“It’s okay if other people think you’re God, but you’re in trouble if you start believing it.”
-David Cornwell, Sports Attorney,




Inflated egos often undermine common sense and smart decision making. Three of my favorite articles, clarify actions by leaders, in which their ego negatively impact their performance Forbes Magazine, August 2014, published, “The No. 1 Reason Leaders Fall Short: Ego.”; The Wall Street Journal “The Case for Humble Executives”; and Harvard Business Review, “Three Ways to Keep Your Ego in Check,”:









1. Forbes Magazine, August 2014, published, “The No. 1 Reason Leaders Fall Short: Ego.” The author, Forbes Contributing Writer, Bruce Kasanoff, shares that Ego is a blinder. It stops you from processing information. It stops you from seeing the world as it is. Instead of seeing reality, you see The Me Show. You are so blinded by the beauty of your name in lights that you fail to realize the best leaders bring out the best in other people, not just themselves.








2. The Wall Street Journal, October 2015, published “The Case for Humble Executives”, Leaders with humility listen well, admit errors and are willing to share the limelight, which stresses that Some executives spend years developing humble listening skills.




3.  Harvard Business Review, December 2009, published, “Three Ways to Keep Your Ego in Check,” which shares that leaders have to believe in themselves — otherwise no one else will. Their conviction in their own abilities has to be strong as well as resilient, but such self-assurance cannot be allowed to become arrogance. So often when we see business leaders making poor decisions it seems as if their ego is speaking louder than their voice of reason.






Executive Presence Perspectives:
From an executive presence perspective, emotional intelligence is part of executive presence III Gravitas/ Leadership. In particular, it is the ability to engage your “people skills” which foster relationships with employees, stakeholders, and customers.













“People aren’t drawn to perfection; they are inspired and influenced by vulnerability, humility, and courage.”
-Jen Shirkani, Author

Jen Shirkani penned, Ego vs. EQ, How Top Leaders Beat 8 Ego Traps with Emotional Intelligence. She shares that Ego-driven leaders can sidestep the eight most dangerous traps that undermine success and learn to heed their EQ instead. While this information is not new ground, there are benefits from Shirkani’s helpful information and solid advice.

ego vs eq








In Jen’s video she speaks at a conference on emotional intelligence, and shares some unique examples of leaders whom are not aware of the effect of their ego, please review the video here:

In Ego vs EQ, Jen teaches us that there are three components of emotional intelligence (EQ) – “self- awareness, empathy and self-control”; how to follow your EQ instead of your ego; and what methods you can use to avoid slipping back into egotistical behaviors

10 Key Points to Keeping your Ego in Check
1. A “360-degree feedback” survey ensures a fair and balanced assessment of the competencies of executives.
“Once you rise to the upper ranks of the organization it can be very difficult to get objective feedback about your performance.” -Jen Shirkani, Author

2. Effective leaders acknowledge their shortcomings and welcome input; egotistical ones do not.
“As leader of the organization, your behavior – for good or for ill – is the primary model according to which everyone else acts.” -Jen Shirkani, Author

3. Emotional intelligence (EQ) skills matter more the higher you rise in your firm.
“Self-awareness – or recognizing what’s happening with you – will go a long way to help you avoid a full relapse into your old ways.” -Jen Shirkani, Author

4. Executives set an example and establish behavioral standards.
“Accepting that others can do a competent job will keep you focused on the important strategic work of an executive, instead of the nit-picking work of a subject matter expert.” -Jen Shirkani, Author

5. Executives’ self-appraisals often differ radically from others’ appraisals of them.
“When you hire others who live on your wavelength, you unintentionally create a support system of people who are not equipped to challenge you, to question your thinking.” -Jen Shirkani, Author

6. Leaders who are unwilling or unable to recognize their own deficiencies are much more likely to sabotage their careers.
“Without moments on the front line, leaders can easily become blind to what it’s like for rank-and-file employees leading the charge from the fore.” -Jen Shirkani, Author

7. Many executives fail to understand the distinction between “control” and “leadership.”
“Whether it is employee disengagement, lowered morale, increased turnover, or decreased motivation, the effects of falling into the ego traps are real and costly.” -Jen Shirkani, Author

8. Relinquishing control means stepping back, delegating responsibility and, most important, trusting in the outcome.
“If you feel that you must micromanage, then you don’t trust. And if you don’t trust, you place artificial limits on your company’s ability to grow.” -Jen Shirkani, Author

9. Sustainable organizational growth requires dissenting viewpoints and opinions.
“Sometimes executives need fundamental relationship skills that are simply outside their scope of traditional expertise and are not taught in business school.”
-Jen Shirkani, Author

10. Technical skills and knowledge have little bearing on leadership ability.
“Losing touch with your front line, or even being perceived that way because of a lack of visibility, is a surefire way to lose both your credibility and your employee loyalty.”
-Jen Shirkani, Author

Photos courtesy of Google images
Forbes Magazine, August 2014, “The No. 1 Reason Leaders Fall Short: Ego.”
The Wall Street Journal, October 2015, “The Case for Humble Executives.
Harvard Business Review, December 2009, Three Ways to Keep Your Ego in Check .
Jen Shirkani penned, Ego vs. EQ, How Top Leaders Beat 8 Ego Traps with Emotional Intelligence.

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