Have you ever worked with someone who just seemed to have that “it” factor? 

They speak with authority, instill confidence and are able to connect with and inspire others. Rosina Racioppi, president and CEO of women’s leadership company Women Unlimited, says, “Women who have ‘it’ have discovered the right formula of conveying their business expertise using a combination of competence – business knowledge and warmth – and their ability to connect with others.”

This is what we call leadership presence.

Why is this important for your personal development? It has been estimated that presence determines about 70% of hiring and advancement decisions at senior-management levels and, for a woman candidate, that number can jump to 85%.

How and what you say contributes to having the “it” factor.  You need to be clear, concise and confident when speaking. Nonverbal skills are important for effective communication (gestures, eye contact, posture, handshakes). All of these convey confidence.

Listening is another key skill to having the “it” factor. Listen to understand and learn. Take notes and ask questions to show people you are connected to what they are saying. Other nonverbal ways to show engagement are leaning in and making eye contact. These skills demonstrate you are interested in what others are trying to accomplish.

You have to look the part as well. “Dressing for the job you want not the job you have” is an old saying, but it rings true even today. Presenting yourself in a well-groomed and neat manner shows you care about yourself, but also how others see you. You want to project a professional image, and dressing appropriately is one way to do that. 

When leading a meeting or even when you stop by someone’s office for an impromptu chat, be prepared and poised. Have an agenda, know what you want to achieve and what specific results you are looking to attain. Think of potential questions and have prepared responses ready. You may not get exactly what you wanted, but your image will be of someone organized, succinct and one who doesn’t waste other people’s time.

Building rapport is key to having the “it” factor. People like to feel that you care about them and what motivates them. Make personal connections and engage others in conversation about business and personal matters. Asking questions is a great way to start a conversation and get to know people better.

Award-winning author and poet Maya Angelou once said, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Remember that leadership presence isn’t just about what you know; it’s about how you convey your business intellect competently while also inspiring and empowering others.

What are you going to do today to develop your presence?