On April 12, 2017 the Quebec WCT Chapter hosted a workshop entitled “In Search of Executive Presence”, which was followed by a networking cocktail for participants in the offices of Blakes. The workshop was run by Shann McGrail, a former director at Microsoft and a founder of Devreve, Inc., a solution provider for companies in the technology industry focused on developing and implementing strategic programs and solutions that drive business results. Shann is equally invested in furthering the advancement of women in communications, media, and technology and coaching for potential.
Shann provided a breakdown of the key traits of executive presence which are gravitas (67%), communication (28%) and appearance (5%). Gravitas pertains to your overall demeanour which entails demonstrating confidence, maintaining poise under pressure and being decisive. With regards to communication it relates to what you say and how you say it. Key elements in terms of communication comprise using a positive body language and an appropriate tone of voice, reacting well in unpredictable situations and becoming more emotionally intelligent. Surprisingly, appearance does not account for a large portion of executive presence but we have to remember that it is nonetheless the very first filter people will apply when evaluating executive presence. If you don’t pass this first test, then the other two components don’t stand a chance! Shann specified that the appearance component does not entail having to look like a super model but rather making sure that you are well groomed and polished in all instances.
In the picture, starting from the left, Elizabeth Alves (president WCT-Quebec chapter),
Shann McGrail (founder of Devreve Inc)
and Tricia Kuhl (member of WCT-Quebec Board).
After Shann went through the general principles of Executive Presence, participants were encouraged to conduct a self-assessment, identify areas for improvement and develop an action plan for future success. Shann’s improvisation background allowed for enriching group exercises focused on the topic of committing to action. She reiterated multiple times the importance of leading with “yes”. Studies show that only 32% of women lead with “yes”. A vast majority of women ask questions, point out problems and raise red flags in the face of opportunity. She challenged us to change just 1 conversation a day at this level. She also provided her top 10 list on how to “up” our executive presence. Lastly, participants were encouraged to define their own leadership values and develop personal value statements in order to sell their own unique leadership strengths. The workshop was a great opportunity to connect with leading women in the industry in Montreal all the while learning what it takes to lead as an executive.
Comments from participants:
- Best $100 the company ever spent on me!
- The speaker was amazing and the message was clear and highly enjoyable!
- Best event to date, going to be hard to surpass!