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Five Pillars of Executive Presence [PODCAST]

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The Hospital Finance Podcast

In this episode, we are joined by Michael Teape, Co-Founder of Teape Training International, to talk about Five Pillars of an Executive Presence.

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Highlights of this episode include:

  • Clarity
  • Expressive communication
  • Poise
  • Authenticity
  • Self-confidence

Mike Passanante: Hi, this is Mike Passanante and welcome back to the award-winning Hospital Finance Podcast. Developing and projecting executive presence is an important element for all aspiring leaders. Today, I’m joined by Michael Teape, co-founder of Teape Training International, to talk about five pillars of executive presence. Michael has conducted business and personal effectiveness design and delivery training, coaching, train the trainer and training strategy development since 1994. Michael, welcome to the show.

Michael Teape: Thank you for having me, Michael.

Mike: So, Mike, why don’t you start out and just tell us a little bit about what you do and then we’ll talk more extensively about the five pillars of executive presence.

Michael: Sure. TTI really is your one stop shop for all organizations on their learning and development needs. So what we’re offering is a partnership to organizations to help their people improve, exceed their expectations, grow their strengths. And we do that with the focus of, well, what do you want to achieve in an organization? So you can imagine it can be very bespoke, tailor made, but also we can also come in and work on specific issues that need to be addressed in the organization. So we’re a global support across all business industries and all levels of employee within that. One of the things that’s close to my heart is our division that looks after train the trainer. So that’s helping develop train professionals like ourselves, facilitators of learning, leaders who want to stand out and project their message. And that’s a little bit about what we’re talking about today.

Mike: Absolutely. And many in our audience, as we chatted offline before the podcast started, are aspiring leaders. Not everyone is the CFO yet. So folks are working their way up the ladder and I think we’ve got some great content here to talk about how they can project that executive presence to help them along their way. So the very first pillar of executive presence that you’d like to talk about is clarity. Why don’t you tell us about that?

Michael: Yeah, the five pillars are all encompassing. So it’s the whole picture, but the very first thing you’ve got to be done is to be heard, and it needs to be clear not only in how you annunciate it so that people hear it the first time, they’re not wondering what you said. But also the message has to be clear. It’s got to be straightforward, beautiful flow from beginning of day to information that people need to know, right through to your recommendations and what next. And the rule of three. I don’t know about the rule of three, but the rule of three applies. It’s easy to give chunks of information and be clear in three sections of information, but they all have to build towards what’s the point of why I’m listening to you. And those messages you can craft. You could script them, you could read them word for word, but they still are the first pillar of executive presence and impact. I need to know what I’m saying. The message has to be clear throughout and I need to chunk it down into digestible steps. What’s the point of even listening to you if someone’s just going to spend ages on the introductions, ages on talking about the data, when really we want to know how you synthesize that data, whether that’s in finance, whether it’s actually into the actual diagnosis that someone’s going through.

Mike: And I think clarity was a particularly big issue in this past, say, year and a half, not only when we think about how you may present a report or information, as you mentioned, but leadership through the ranks at a hospital during a crisis time period, right?

Michael: Yeah, and there’s been a lot of work. There’s some work by David Rock from a neuro-leadership institute on what people need in order to be able to be adaptive during that time. We all were in virtual. And then when you were in the hospital space, it’s difficult to communicate. You can’t see each other’s faces. You have other stresses on you. And one of the major stresses for human beings is I need to be clear what we’re doing. The clarity is 100% up there, the first thing that they need. So you can’t come in and say, “Oh, we’re just going to wing this. Yeah, just wear your mask. Yeah. See how you go with the mask.” It has to be, “Well, I can clarify what we know and what we know is during any interactions with human beings face to face, you must wear this mask. But how are we going to take breaks or we’re going to make sure that we take as many breaks as possible in the hour.” You have to make it as clear as possible and create certainty. So clarity, if you don’t know the landscape as we didn’t know, particularly in the hospital, you didn’t know what they’re facing right through to the how the test flow system works, the mask to the advisers, to the PP, all that protective gear that we were wearing. What we could say is we could be clear and concise about any interaction. This is what we need and provide the moments when they could take a break in a safe place. Then, “Okay, I understand. I’m clear on those boundaries. Let’s work from there” So it’s consistency of clarity that’s required. There are so many different angles on that, Michael. But that’s also why it’s the first pillar. We couldn’t have gone through a more bigger example than the pandemic, right?

Mike: So important. So important. I think closely related to that is the second pillar, which is expressive communication.

Michael: Yeah. And I don’t mean you have to be the world’s best narrator, the most expressive person in the world. That’s not what it means. So expressive communication means that you have to be passionate about what you’re saying. You can read your clear bullet points, your straightforward message, but you need to bring it alive. And that’s where the expressive communication comes in. There needs to be some kind of passion. Why am I talking to you about it? Why is it important that we get this reimbursement structure right? All of our finance is in the right order. We need to identify a passion behind that, is that we’re saving patients money. We’re making sure that we’re a strong structure able to provide services if we have a fortress balance sheet, for example. So here I’m using words that are much more expressive in the communication. I’m not just reading details. I’m hoping that makes sense, because the second part of that is you have to bring it alive with the words. The second part, you need to take people on a journey. You need to be a little bit of a storyteller. And that doesn’t mean you’re telling stories randomly. What it means is you’re pointing out, why am I talking to you about this issue? Here are the points, the challenges we face, here are the main points. This is the land of opportunity we’re trying to get to, and that is a more efficient structure, brings down the costs, our customers have a clearer idea of building a structure, for example, throughout hospital. So it’s about bringing it alive a good storyteller and that’s something that everyone can learn. It does not mean you have to be the most expressive person in the room. We save that to certain individuals.

Mike: Yeah, no. I think that the people that, frankly, do the best work in finance are the ones that know how to bring those numbers to life, to activate them and get people excited about that mission, right?

Michael: 100%. If they can’t access what’s in it for the other person, the person who’s listening, they don’t know who the key stakeholders they are talking to and decide to develop their arguments. If they’re putting across how to deal with a certain challenge with finance is not going to happen. You might as well just sit on a report and then they’re going to make up their own mind. The whole point of executive presence and impact is to influence people to a way of understanding your viewpoint and what actions are required while showing what you’re known for, which is the next couple of pillars as we come in to them. Understanding who you are and what you stand for is very important.

Mike: And how you deliver that sort of as the third pillar. And that’s poise, which is so critical.

Michael: Poise is everything from the smile you give. Even when you’re talking right now, I’m smiling. Your poise, your physical makeup, how well planted your feet are anchored on the ground and it affects your voice, where you’re talking from so people could clearly hear you. And the sophistication of that, your poise, the sophistication is people know that you understand their viewpoint. I wonder if that makes sense to your listeners, is that you need to be telling your stories and being clear in your points to what is the benefit for your stakeholder, your listener, your boss, the patients, whoever you focus on at that time. And that really takes time. You need to understand more about the culture of the environment you’re working in. You need to understand the position that maybe you’d like to aspire to. So what is it that the next level up is doing? How are they more strategic in their thinking? And using that as well as being physically centered, Michael, I think that’s really the biggest thing, is to– if you planted your feet on the ground firmly, opened up your diaphragm. There’s so many physical things you can do to help you with poise and in the language of matching the language of stakeholders, those you want to influence.

Mike: And I think that poise is in a lot of ways is my interpretation. It’s fueled by the fourth pillar and that’s authenticity. I think it’s much easier to be poised about your presentation when you’re coming from a place of authenticity. Would you agree?

Michael: Oh, yes, I would. But what does authenticity mean to people? That’s the thing. And authenticity is the quality of being genuine or real. So you may not live and breathe and your authenticity might be honesty, might be family values. It could be any anything of a broader range. When you bring it into work is how you’re genuinely connecting to the work you’re trying to do, the purpose of the point you’re trying to put across, the efficiencies you’re trying to make, getting everything as accurate as possible. Future state, making sure that we can still get reimbursements thinking six months, a year ahead. Those items there. And what you’re trying to do is you’re trying to be consistent. So authenticity is a huge piece and what we’re trying to do with it is to build trust that I’m a credible person talking to you on this viewpoint and I’m somebody that can be trusted. The way we get that is through being consistent with our messages and what we’re trying to achieve and the why, coming back to the why. Simon Sinek talks a lot about that and his Golden Circle, and he still continues to talk about that in his work of why you need to connect to it. And people say, “Oh, you’re consistent. I hear what you’re standing for, but I may not have–” They don’t have to know you personally and all of your value structure, your main frameworks of family, religion, politics, cultural background at all. You have to create that trust in what you’re saying. So consistency of message and making sure that your core purpose of what you’re standing for and what you’re talking about is you mention at least two, maybe two to three times, depending on how much air time you have.

Mike: And I think the fifth pillar, I don’t know, for me, I think this might be the hardest one for a lot of people because we talk about things like impostor syndrome. And so the fifth pillar is self-confidence. And so you can do all these other things, but if it doesn’t come from a place of feeling assured about yourself, it’s very difficult to pull the rest of it off, right?

Andrew: Yeah. Let me just tell everybody, imposter syndrome exists and it’s a little thing that catches you off guard, makes you second guess what you’re about to say and you have no understanding, well, why did I just hesitate there? Why did I back down? And a lot of it is subconscious. Your previous experiences and your self-talk. This is a lot about self-talk informs your belief and that then becomes reality. So for me, self-confidence early on in my career was a huge issue. Standing up early on in my career as a facilitator, standing up and addressing fairly large crowds, talking about technical areas in finance at the time. I was working at JP Morgan Chase at the time, but it would affect my physicality. I would get hot. I would doubt what I’d say. I’d start humming and hawing. But when I’d stop talking, I’d be like, “I know this.” And that’s where the self-confidence is a big thing, is believing in why you are there. A lot of self-talk can start with, “Why am I talking?” If you’re feeling nervous, you say,”Well, why have I been asked to talk? Well, because I’m the person in charge of it. I’m the person that put together this data. They want to hear from me. Okay, then I need to relax, find the friendly face on the Zoom call, put it on gallery view these days, the friendly face in the room and work from there.” So physical breathing, how we put pressure, you can actually push down on the desk, scrunch up your toes, things that people can’t see to give you the physical feeling of self-confidence. And the other thing is be careful what you’re telling yourself because your brain is always listening.

And for me, we get into this negative self-talk, it’s like, “Oh God, I haven’t had enough time to prepare for this.” You might be having a shower at the beginning of the day and go, “Oh God, I’m running late for this meeting. Blimey, I’ve no time to prepare. Oh, it’s going to be terrible. So and so is going to be overbearing and take over the meeting.” We’re projecting our lack of self-confidence and our imposter syndrome into that. We need to catch ourselves to say, “Hang on a minute. I’m going to be there in time. I’m fully prepared. You got to prepare for success, is one of my mantras. I’m fully prepared for this. They asked me to speak. They want the information. Why do they want this information? Because they need it to make their decisions. I’m here to help them.” And now all of a sudden, I’m connecting my self-confidence to authenticity of why I’m here. My poise improves and then I can start to look back at what my message is, the clarity and how I’m going to make that express and how I’m going to land it. So, yes, self-confidence is a huge piece. I personally had a lot of experience with it over the years. I’m still coaching myself and many, many other facilitators and leaders through that, how do you get through that. But thank you, Michael. Yeah, it’s a big piece of the puzzle.

Mike: I don’t think that ever, ever truly leaves you. I think we’re all capable of falling into that negative self-talk. You just get better at handling it as you get more experience, I think.

Michael: I think we just need to be aware of it as well. It can hijack you if you’re not aware that you’re– you need to catch yourself in the moment, “Oh, hang on. What am I telling myself?” Because my brain is always going to say, “Oh, crumbs, I’m going to be calling myself right down here. Why am I doing that?” And just by doing that helps you refocus back on your message again. It’s almost a cycle of the five pillars. They could go in a cycle that then informs, “Let me check my message’s clear. Hhas it got that passionate edge, that needs that people can listen to it?” Telling stories is one of the biggest things I talk with people about when they’re trying to sell their ideas. Yeah, we’re just trying to help people to not be someone else, but be themselves confidently. If you’re a quiet, confident person, that’s great. If you’re an expressive person like myself and you just can’t– in the moment, I have to make sure I rein that in. I need to be very clear with my examples as well. So we’re all different. But this is still a major piece of the puzzle we need to look at. And after you’ve held a meeting, after you’ve done a presentation, presented your ideas maybe to a leadership team, is always good to reflect, “Okay, what went well for me? When did I feel confident and what when did I not follow, did not rise to the occasion? Why is that? Why is that? Who was it that I was talking to that maybe influenced that in the room?” Because a lot of the time, that affects who you’re talking to and the feedback you’re getting. If you don’t get the feedback you’re expecting, it can affect your self-confidence.

Mike: Michael, I know we just scratched the surface on these pillars today, and this is something that you get into extensively with companies and individuals. If this is something that someone would like to learn more about or want to know more about your organization and what you do, where can they go?

Micheal: The best thing you can do is put teapetraininginternational.com, is our website. That’s where we list out our services. And one of the best things to do is to look me up on LinkedIn. I’m lucky Teape is a rare English last name. So if you Google Michael Teape, I’m the first thing that comes up. But let’s get together, connect with me only LinkedIn. You’ll find I have my latest freebie seven best facilitation tips online to help you look at these five pillars and develop your style as well. So that’s available to view for free. Just click on it and download it as well.

Mike: Michael Teape, thank you so much for joining us today on the hospital finance podcast.

Micheal: Thank you, Mike. It was a pleasure.

The Hospital Finance Podcast

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