My guest today is Carrie Beckstrom, the CEO of PowerSpeaking. Carrie is passionate about helping leaders and organizations develop powerful communication skills that inspire and get results.
You’re going to be inspired and get results when you hear Carrie talk about how to enhance your executive presence.
About the Guest:
Carrie Beckstrom is the CEO of PowerSpeaking, Inc. She is passionate about leading this talented team in helping organizations—at corporations like Genentech, eBay, Autodesk, and Gilead Sciences—develop powerful communication skills that inspire people and get results.
“Our purpose is to make great people even greater at what they do every day. That includes becoming effective global communicators who build positive relationships and drive business forward.”
Prior to joining PowerSpeaking, Carrie enjoyed more than 30 years’ experience in the learning and development industry, where she led award-winning teams.
The best way to reach Carrie is through email at email@example.com.
About the Host:
Amy L. Riley is an internationally renowned speaker, author and consultant. She has over 2 decades of experience developing leaders at all levels. Her clients include Cisco Systems, Deloitte and Barclays.
As a trusted leadership coach and consultant, Amy has worked with hundreds of leaders one-on-one, and thousands more as part of a group, to fully step into their leadership, create amazing teams and achieve extraordinary results.
Amy’s most popular keynote speeches are:
The Courage of a Leader: The Power of a Leadership Legacy
The Courage of a Leader: Create a Competitive Advantage with Sustainable, Results-Producing Cross-System Collaboration
The Courage of a Leader: Accelerate Trust with Your Team, Customers and Community
The Courage of a Leader: How to Build a Happy and Successful Hybrid Team
Her new book is a #1 international best-seller and is entitled, The Courage of a Leader: How to Inspire, Engage and Get Extraordinary Results.
Resources mentioned in the episode
Gallup Strengths Finder – https://www.gallup.com/cliftonstrengths/en/252137/home.aspx
Marcus Buckingham Standout Assessment – https://www.marcusbuckingham.com/gift-of-standout/
PowerSpeaking – Expert training to help you and your team become more powerful communicators – https://www.powerspeaking.com/
Thanks for listening!
Thanks so much for listening to The Courage of a Leader podcast! If you got inspired and/or got valuable leadership techniques you can use from this episode and think that others could benefit from listening, please share using the social media buttons on this page.
Do you have questions or feedback about this episode? Leave a comment in the section below!
Subscribe to the podcast
If you would like to get automatic updates of new The Courage of a Leader podcast episodes, you can subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts. You can also subscribe in your favorite podcast app.
Leave us an Apple Podcasts review
Ratings and reviews from our listeners are extremely valuable to us and greatly appreciated. They help our podcast rank higher on Apple Podcasts, which helps us ignite The Courage of a Leader in more leaders! Please take a minute and leave an honest review on Apple Podcasts.
Teaser for next episode
Tune in next for “How to Avoid Biased Feedback and Create a Safe, Empowering Culture” with LaTonya Wilkins. LaTonya is a credentialed coach, author of the book Leading Below the Surface, and sought after keynote speaker who has inspired audiences all over the world.
My guest today is Carrie BeAmy Riley:
ckstrom, the CEO of power speaking. Carrie is passionate about helping leaders and organizations develop powerful communication skills that inspire and get results. You're going to be inspired and get results. When you hear Carrie talk about how to enhance your executive presence. I'm glad you're here to listen in.Amy Riley:
Welcome to the Courage of a Leader podcast. This is where you hear real life stories of top leaders achieving extraordinary results. And you get practical advice and techniques, you can immediately apply for your own success. This is where you will get inspired. And take bold, courageous action. I am so glad you can join us. I'm your host, Amy Riley. Now, are you ready to step into the full power of your leadership and achieve the results you care about most? Let's ignite the courage of a leader.Amy Riley:
Carrie, I know we want to talk about executive presence today. Let's start with how do you define or think about executive presence?Carrie Beckstrom:
Sure, it can be somewhat of an elusive topic. And there's lots and lots of definitions out there. The one that resonated with me the most is one that I read in a recent Forbes article. And it's one's ability to inspire confidence. And you can think of that in a variety of ways, you know, inspire confidence in people to want to follow you. Yes, fire confidence among your peers, that you are capable and trustworthy, inspire confidence in senior leaders that you're capable of achieving great things. Nice.Amy Riley:
Yes. ability to inspire confidence and carry you mentioned that there are four traits to executive presence. What are those?Carrie Beckstrom:
Yeah, and one of the things I want to stress is that this is not something you're born with. This is a skill that you can absolutely cultivate. And frankly, in my opinion, it's one you should strive to cultivate and refine on an ongoing basis. It, it's narrowed down to four, four traits. And I think of them as the four C's, a one is composure, so one's ability to be level headed and rational under stress and not emotionally charged. I want to stress though it doesn't mean you have to be completely buttoned up and perfect. This is not about perfection, it's about composure, again, you're trying to inspire confidence in others. And your ability to work through pressure in a rational way, of course, is essential. The other near and dear to my heart is communication. Communication is a critical way in which you can convey your executive presence or your lack thereof. Some things that are really important in the area of communication, when we think about executive presence is your ability to communicate clearly and concisely. Naturally, the more you advance in senior leadership roles, the more compressed time is, and therefore the more essential it is that you're able to quickly influence others with your words in a concise crisp play. Nice and well. We'll elaborate more on that I'd love to a me because yeah, the other thing that is refreshing from my perspective is I think other aspects of communication that have become even more important now weren't necessarily important before, such as one's authenticity. I mean, that the quickest way to trust is to be really authentic in the way in which you communicate and transparent.Amy Riley:
Yeah, yes, we will talk more.Carrie Beckstrom:
And then the third C is confidence and capability. Naturally, in my view, your competence are kind of table stakes. You also have to be able to convey that capability in a confident way. And here I think it's really important to distinguish between confidence which I consider you know, self assurance and your self worth versus arrogance, which a real turn off and off putting and erode your executive presence. And then the fourth again, in my view and experience is Chris You have to be Christmas Eric, in order for you to inspire confidence, you have to be magnetic and in your own unique way. Be engaging, be dynamic. be inspiring, be passionate.Amy Riley:
Yes. I love how you're saying that in your own unique way. Oh, Carrie, this is great. I love this definition, this way of thinking about executive presence. Because I think first of all, many don't know how to think about this nebulous term, and probably have a more narrow view of it, then you just described, I think many think about executive presence. Well, first is something that you either have or you don't have love when you build it out to the four C's, that that that shows us that there are skills we can develop here, we all know we can develop communication skills. For example, if we think about the different aspects, where are we already strong and can lean in? And where do we need to develop and fine tune our skills?Carrie Beckstrom:
Let me tell the listeners more about you, Carrie, we are talking today to Carrie Backstrom, She is the CEO of power speaking. Carrie is passionate about leading the talented power speaking team and helping organizations such as genatech, eBay, Autodesk Gilead Sciences, develop powerful communication skills that inspire people and get results. Here's a quote our purpose is to make great people even greater at what they do every day. That includes becoming effective global communicators, who build positive relationships and drive business forward. Prior to joining power speaking, Carrie enjoyed more than 30 years experience in the learning and development industry, where she led award winning teams. I am proud to be a facilitator and a coach with power speaking and delighted to have Carrie on the podcast today. Thanks, Carrie.Carrie Beckstrom:
Oh, you bet. And we're delighted to have you very.Amy Riley:
Let's keep this conversation going. You intrigued me You said you wanted to talk more about communication? Because there are communication aspects or skills that are becoming more important. More recently. Can you say more?Carrie Beckstrom:
I sure can. Before I do that, could I share a quick story because in addition to stressing the fact that this is a skill, which should be really heartening and refreshing to folks, you have or you don't. The other thing that I find very encouraging is the degree to which executive presence has evolved, in my opinion in a very, very positive way, which makes it I think, more accessible, and in reach of many, many different people. So yeah, sorry. And just to put perspective on this, I started my career in 1985. So we're going back a number of decades, I, early in my career, I was working for a multibillion dollar, very, very large corporation. At the time, there was one, one woman in the executive suite, okay. And in my view, she exuded executive presence, composed, confident, capable, okay. exuded it. And in many ways, she was my role model. I observed her I tried to emulate her in certain ways. Until one day I heard this story that really caused me pause. I heard that she one day while at work, was just plagued with this excruciating toothache. Okay. And she didn't tell a soul except for her executive sis assistant, who behind the scenes was scrambling to try to get her appointment and make adjustments with other kinds of explanations to her schedule. Okay. In the meantime, she continued conducting business in meetings, interacting over the phone with clients until she could discreetly slipped away to get her toothache fixed. And the key point is, her motive for doing this wasn't because there was going to be an adverse impact on the business if she was out for a few hours. It was because she didn't want to reveal under any circumstances that she would ever make a personal need come before business. And I had a one year old son at the time and I thought If I'm not if this is what it takes? Yeah, I'm not sure. This is the path I want to follow. Yeah. So I, my point in sharing that is, I think executive presence used to almost be synonymous with a white male persona. And, you know, it looked in the same to everyone, people tried to dress like it, they tried to act like it. And now, executive presence has evolved and can be shown up in a variety of ways while working on developing those core traits. So it's possible to let your unique style let your human side come out and still be viewed as a highly capable person with strong executive presence.Amy Riley:
Yes, yes. I was thinking more human. And then you you said that phrase, let the human side come out. Right. And I was also thinking pushing through as you have that tooth ache, like is that showing up on my face, in my mannerisms, in my tone, like, as I'm physically dealing with a discomfort?Carrie Beckstrom:
Yes, exactly. I mean, think about how incredibly difficult that had to be am and in my opinion, so unnecessary. Right? So and that gets to the question, you were asking me about how has the expectations of leaders and their communication evolved, the importance of being clear and concise holds true today, just as it did, you know, years and years and years ago, what has changed, and this relates to what you and I were just discussing, is, the heightened importance of being really authentic. And authenticity means I am so sorry, but I can barely concentrate because I have an excruciating toothache, and I'm gonna go take care of it. And I would expect you to be able to do the same if you were in my position. So So authenticity is, is again, so important to making those really genuine, meaningful connections, and frankly, to succeed and wanting people to follow you, and, you know, reach great heights with you. The other piece and these all relate is the willingness to be transparent, something that just drives me crazy, is when the corporate spin is put on things to try to sugarcoat an action that's been taken, that's probably essential for the business, but it's going to adversely affect others. example I can think of, again, a company I used to work with, when the decision was made to offshore a lot of jobs and in lower labor markets, which meant laying off a number of people in the States, rather than calling it like it was. It was called right sizing. We're right sizing. Okay. And what does that do that that people are smart? They see through things. Yeah. So that causes people, you lose credibility. And, and again, it can be off putting. So I would say the transparency, the authenticity, and the vulnerability executive presence doesn't mean that you have to be perfect. No, at all. Quite the contrary.Amy Riley:
Yeah, it's how can you demonstrate vulnerability in a way that works for you? Yeah, those around you. These are some really great points, Carrie, and with your point around, being authentic, and as we've talked about the courage of a leader, first pillar is the courage to be authentically you. And you're talking about authenticity, not only, I don't know, universally, like or holistically like I like I show up as a leader, knowing my strengths and knowing my style and leaning into my strengths and being who I am. I'm also hearing you say it's authenticity day to day. I'm dealing with a tooth ache today. Here's how I am, here's how I'm showing up. Here's what you need to know about what's going on with me today. Not that we share, of course, all of our childhood traumas and everything that's gone on, and you know exactly what we think about all of our interactions with our you know, whomever over the weekend. Yeah, but here's what what you need to know about how I'm showing up today and having that awareness and thinking intentionally about how do you share that with others.Carrie Beckstrom:
One thing you said I really like and want to underscore authenticity to me, also relates to really, really having clarity around your on personal brand, nice, you know, taking the time to really be clear on what is your unique value, we all have unique value and I 100% Subscribe to play into your strengths rather than having this inordinate focus on your weaknesses are your shortcomings. What are your values that plays right in with authenticity? And what are your contributions? Yeah, so to be truly authentic, it does require, in my view, some self reflection, and really bringing into focus. Who are you? And how do you want to show up?Amy Riley:
Yeah, yeah. Love that. Look, we'd love for all leaders, and we're all leaders, right? And allies to be really clear about what's our personal brand. And that is not 27 different things. No, right? That that is a unique value proposition that you uniquely bring to our world. And I love that, oh, go ahead.Carrie Beckstrom:
I was just gonna say the one other thing I wanted to mention in terms of what it takes to be a strong communicator that builds your executive presence that wasn't necessarily as much emphasized in the past, because the the leadership approach and corporate culture tended to be more one of control and command. Whereas today, I think the number one goal of communication is to connect, to connect, that also means being a really empathetic active listener, because part of what makes you successful as a leader is your ability to make the right decisions on behalf of the company to make the right decisions, you have to be getting insight from all different channels, which takes deep active listening. Yes,Amy Riley:
there's so much gold in what you're saying, Carrie, and it kind of pulls together everything that you were saying if if our goal is to connect, we need to show up authentically, we need to be transparent. We need to be vulnerable. Right? And that that helps that connection. And yeah, and it also takes listening, truly listening actively. And with empathy. Yeah. So if I am a leader, and I'm listening, and I think oh, yes, right, love these four traits, that carries outlining for us about executive presence. And I think I want to build my executive presence. Where do I start? How do I do that?Carrie Beckstrom:
Well, first of all, is understanding what it is which we just talked about. So whether whether your formula or Ave or the four seasons I described, or whatever it is, really define it into skills that one can develop, practice work on refining. The other thing I think is really important is self awareness. Yeah, you have to start with where you're at. And, you know, there's so many things we can do as leaders to increase the self awareness of those working for us. Obviously, one is providing very thoughtful, meaningful, helpful feedback, encouraging whomever it is, you're coaching, to do the same seek because how we think about ourselves isn't necessarily how we're perceived by others. So that's, that's the insight that you're trying to get at. So really striving to get feedback from many different people that see you in a variety of settings because it is important that that executive presence shows up through many, many, many different scenarios and not just when you're sitting at the executive table. So that self awareness and then us being practitioners, of course, love assessments. So there's a zillion assessments out there that can help in this regard that can also help to really bring focus to your personal brand. One I really like is gallop strengths finders another one is the Marcus Buckingham standout assessment. And then the the other is encouraged the individual to invest in his or her development. I am biased, I feel very, very strongly that investing in enhancing one's communication skills is extraordinarily important because it it regardless of your role, regardless of your aspirations, improving your ability to confidently and effectively communicate, whatever it is you're trying to achieve will yield dividends. And then the other thing I would say and I think this ties to one of your pillars, is really encouraging the person to take risks because frankly, frankly, it There's no way around it. executive presence is honed through a lot of practice and a lot of failures. I mean, some of my most painful but most important lessons in terms of how I slowly improved my executive presence was through missteps.Amy Riley:
Thank you. Thank you, Carrie. So you said, if I can recap that, define it. Right, be sure you're clear on how you're thinking about executive presence, and then raising your awareness. Right, which can be reflecting on that day to day, dude, I do. I think I had the impact that I wanted to have in that meeting. And that's in that setting. If I look back, did it seem like my message was landing, and then check in with some of those folks, and I love that you said a variety of people in a variety of situations, because executive presence is something we want to continually be demonstrating. And we can if we're authentically showing up and intentionally working to have clear, crisp, concise, compelling, all the C's messages. Yeah, that's right. That's right. All from all the scenes from Carrie. And yeah, getting that feedback from people who interact with us in a variety of situations. And then practice, try things, take risks, share the bold message, see how it goes, see how it feels? Play with the messaging, right? How do you find the powerful, bold messages that feel genuine and authentic to you?Carrie Beckstrom:
Absolutely. The one other thing I would say, and this is an example of where I personally have benefited in such a significant way, I refer to that very, very large corporation I worked for, and I'm talking 50,000 people, global, and it took years to establish my brand and executive presence. And knowing that's going to take time underscores the importance of if you're the one trying to develop it, my proactively seeking out some sponsors, or if you're the one that's trying to support and coach someone else to exactly develop their executive presence, just having that awareness that this doesn't happen overnight. So they're going to need some strong advocates, at their side to be promoting them, trust in them, have confidence in them, which gives that individual more leeway to, to stumble, and and not necessarily adversely affect their career,Amy Riley:
because you've got an advocate or you've got a sponsor who has your back backwards. And I imagine also is doing run throughs with you that can help you prepare in situations can give you feedback afterwards. Yes. Opportunities for visibility and presenting in different situations or interacting. Yeah, in different in different meetings. I love that the Think about who are who can be your advocates, your sponsors, and invite people to do so. To play that role.Carrie Beckstrom:
Amy, I just thought of one more thing that it's it seems so basic, but I don't think nearly enough people take advantage of it. And it's at our disposal even more now, because we're doing so much virtually, is because executive presence is what what's on the exterior. It's not what's going on in your head. Right. It's like I said, it's how you show up to others. An excellent way to try to get some objective insight into that is playback a meeting?Amy Riley:
Recorded, right?Carrie Beckstrom:
I mean, we know the power of recording when it comes to enhancing your more formal presentation skills is just as powerful when you want to just try to kind of objectively observe yourself in action.Amy Riley:
Yes, yes. I've been part of many meetings that are recorded for someone who couldn't make it that day. I was there that day. That that recording is shared with the full team. Take a look at that. Exactly.Carrie Beckstrom:
Yeah. And it's permanent. Well, at least however long you keep it in the cloud.Amy Riley:
Oh, I know watching ourselves on video makes so many of us cringe but it's so so valuable. I'm glad you brought that up. You've shared so much great stuff Carrie. I want The loop back to something that you said when you were introducing the four traits of executive presence. You talked about with number three, that it's, it's confidence, showing that capability, yet it's not stepping into the arrogance. How do we meet that balance?Carrie Beckstrom:
Well, I'll go back to kind of how I distinguish the two confidence is, is really having belief in your self worth, it goes back to that personal brand, you know, a real belief and confidence in your unique value. Yeah, it doesn't mean that you constant. I mean, it's tough because especially as women, we're constantly advise on the importance of self promotion. But that's not about bragging. And it's not constantly because confidence to be confident means you're self assured, and you're secure. Now, typically, if you're arrogant, typically you're masking some insecurity. So I can provide advice, like a psychologist would be able to move traffic, but underneath that, and why that is, confidence is being really mindful of pointing out others successes and recognizing others that conveys confidence because you're not feeling like the spotlight always has to be on yourself. Confidence is about taking the time to actively listen and be interested in again, and making that kind of goes back me to what is what are you trying to achieve? You're trying to connect with others. So if you're trying to connect with others, you can do it in a way that's very confident, but also very relatable and inclusive, versus alienating, and feeling like it always needs to be about yourself, and you need to go to great lengths to always be right. Yes,Amy Riley:
yes, these are some important very critical aspects of confidence. If we've done that reflection, work about our personal brand, right, if we've done an assessment, a galloper standout roles that you recommended, then then we're grounded in who we are, and what we're strong at and what value we provide, right, then we could talk about the value we provide the value they provide the value they provide. And this idea that we can show confidence while listening. I think there's a narrow view there, right? Confidence, you have to be speaking to demonstrate evidence,Carrie Beckstrom:
not at all and the other thing and I it's it's an individual thing, so it doesn't work for everyone, but I had another great way, especially as a leader, where sometimes, you know, you might not feel accessible to everybody, or I'm sorry, if maybe, you know, just because you retitle maybe it can be someone and intimidating to others, is self deprecation. Again, this is not about perfection.Amy Riley:
Hmm. All self deprecating humor. It endears us to people, engages us we're like this, this this person is how know cool and open and willing to laugh at themselves. Right? HowCarrie Beckstrom:
to seriouslyAmy Riley:
how attractive is that energetically? Exactly. Carrie, you have said so many good things today, starting with the definition of executive presence, one's ability to inspire confidence, the four C's, four traits of executive presence, composure, communication, confidence and capability, and charisma. And then how do we develop our executive presence? Be clear on how you define it. Raise your self awareness intentionally get feedback from others continue to get feedback from others. Take risks, try things Be bold. Record yourself. I love thatCarrie Beckstrom:
we had a sponsorAmy Riley:
and get a sponsor. I knew I was missing something key about the processCarrie Beckstrom:
estimation was amazing.Amy Riley:
Any anything else you want to share about executive presence before we wrap this episode, Carrie.Carrie Beckstrom:
Make it your own. Again. It's not it's not trying to fit a certain mold be uniquely you and work on developing those traits in a way that fits your personal style.Amy Riley:
Yeah, we've talked quite a bit about authenticity. This is about your authentic voice. Yeah. Carrie, thank you so much for being on the courage of a leader podcast today. really valuable information. Oh,Carrie Beckstrom:
delightful. I'll come back anytime. Thank you, Amy.Amy Riley: