Practical steps to build your executive presence as a junior in-house lawyer

The LexisNexis Aspire networking and professional forum met on Tuesday 20 March 2018. Hosted by Sophie Gould, Head of In-house, LexisNexis, this session looked at how to assess and manage risk, what is executive presence and an interactive Q&A session.

Aspire meets 4 times a year and provides a free networking service which is a key life line to many starting out in their in-house legal career.

In this, the second of three blog posts in the series, we share key learning outcomes looking in particular at practical ways to develop that "edge" to accelerate your career.

What is executive presence?

Joanna Day, previously Director of Legal Services for Santander Corporate Banking talked about how to build your executive presence and engage, align, inspire and move people to act. Technical competence with the law is not enough to help you rise to the top; you need an extra ‘It factor’.

The group considered the three pillars of executive presence:

  • look /appearance
  • act /gravitas
  • speak /communication

First impressions are important. They’re your opportunity to show that you understand your audience, that you’re self-aware, confident and energetic. You have control over how you appear, so use that power!  You can’t control events but you can choose how to react to them. Emotional intelligence is a valuable asset in the workplace.

Good communicators know that the actual words you use only play a small role. Body language, for example, is arguably more important (an intimidating concept for word-minded lawyers). Positive engagement is key – listen actively and maintain eye contact to build trust. You’ll also do this by following the ‘three c’s’:

Be credible, compelling and concise.

This means you need to know what you’re talking about – stick to what you know, and be prepared to answer questions five levels deep.

It’s also important to show humility, and be generous with credit.

Join Aspire today

Aspire is free to join and open to all in-house lawyers in the early stages of their legal career. If you wish to be informed about future Aspire events please register your interest here.

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