Ep 85 // Demystifying Executive Presence with Kelly Lynn Adams

Ep 85- Kelly Lynn Adams

Executive presence - all leaders want it, but not all know how to get it. Join Akua as she shares pieces of a recent conversation with Executive and Life Coach Kelly Lynn Adams. They talk about leadership, vulnerability and mindset, and how to regulate and manage your emotions to inspire confidence among your coworkers.

Conscious leaders like Kelly Lynn know that leadership starts from within. Kelly Lynn began her journey on Wall Street, climbing the corporate ladder for 18 years before starting coaching and speaking in 2009. Trauma-informed Kelly Lynn helps leaders, visionaries, founders, executives & entrepreneurs break through what is holding them back and elevate to the next level.

Kelly gives valuable perspective drawing from her experiences from both the entrepreneurial and corporate worlds on the topics of leadership, vulnerability, mindset, and how to embrace challenges as part of your personal development. Akua and Kelly Lynn also discuss the importance of developing self-awareness and resilience when dealing with difficult situations.

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What's Covered in this Episode About Executive Presence

  • Communication is key in building executive presence. 
  • The two debunk the myth that vulnerability equals weakness when it comes to leadership. And how to know WHEN to be vulnerable so that your competence and acumen aren’t questioned.
  • Kelly Lynn talks about embodiment and how it pertains to executive presence. This means how you communicate with your body language and whether what you say matches what you do.
  • Taking time to reflect on your wins, your why, and the value you add is important and should be built into your routine.

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Quotes from this Episode of Open Door Conversations

  • "Executive presence is about your ability to inspire confidence." - Kelly Lynn Adams
  • "Embodiment is so important because we can say something. And are we actually living it to the best of our ability, right? I don't believe in perfectionism and all of that, but it's like, are we doing the best with what we have know who we are being in the situation?" - Kelly Lynn Adams
  • "We get to take care of ourselves, right? And ask for support. And that's also executive presence, right? Everything touches everything, everything can affect everything." - Kelly Lynn Adams

Mentioned in Demystifying Executive Presence with Kelly Lynn Adams

Get to Know this Episode's Guest

Instagram: @kellylynnadams
Website: www.KellyLynnAdams.com
LinkedIn: @kelly-lynn-adams
YouTube: @KellyLynnAdamsTV

Get to Know the Host of the Open Door Conversations Podcast

Learn more about your host, Akua Nyame-Mensah.

Akua is a certified executive and leadership coach, recognized learning and organizational development facilitator, speaker, and former startup executive. 

Since 2018, she has had the opportunity to partner with amazing organizations, from high-growth startups to multinational brands all around the world, to maximize people, performance, and profit.  Outside of her coaching and corporate speaking engagements, she is a regular mentor, coach, and judge for various entrepreneurship-focused organizations.

Stay in touch with Akua Nyame-Mensah, Leadership & Culture Advisor:

  • Read about Akua’s services if you’d like to learn more about how you can hire her to help you strengthen your organization’s culture.

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Here’s the transcript for episode 85 about Demystifying Executive Presence

NOTE: Please excuse any errors in this transcript; it was created using an AI tool. Akua Nyame-Mensah 00:00 do you inspire confidence as a leader this week I share pieces of a recent conversation with executive and life coach Kelly Lynn Adams. She breaks down what executive presence is and is not all leaders want it, but they're not sure how to get it. And we'll look at how executive presence is different for everyone. But the truth is, it starts inside. Hello and welcome to the open door conversations podcast. My name is a Korea Nyame-Mensah. I also respond to Aqua and Akua. I'm a certified executive and leadership coach recognised learning and organisational development facilitator, speaker and former startup executive. And I am so excited because this year I'm celebrating five years of working for myself five years of supporting leaders. And I am so grateful because I've had the opportunity to partner with amazing organisations, from hydro startups to multinational brands all around the world. In 2022. Alone, I serve over 600 Yes, over 600 leaders around the world. And in this podcast, you will have the opportunity to learn my three step leadership framework. I actually break it down in Episode 71. I use this framework with my high achieving and entrepreneurial minded clients that are juggling a million responsibilities so they can easily build wealth. This three step framework is going to teach you how to leverage your innate personality to learn how to prioritise and maximise not just your time, but also your money. You don't have to work harder or turn into someone else. To get more done. Let's tune into this week's episode. Hello, and welcome to this week's open door conversations podcast. In the first part of this series, we spent a lot of time talking about self awareness. And my last solo episode, I started to introduce the concept of engagement. And we talked about self regulation and self management executive presence, I think is a natural extension of thinking of your self management and self regulation. I also think before jumping into this episode, listening to my episode on influence will be very helpful when we kicked off the engagement pillar. As I mentioned before, we dove into self regulation and self management. And to be able to master executive presence. You need to make sure you listen to this episode as well. Your ability to regulate and manage your emotions will be key to building executive presence. executive presence is all about how you are perceived as a leader, the outer game is a result of that hard inner game work. It's a result of you cultivating your self awareness. So do you inspire confidence as a leader in this repurposed LinkedIn audio events, I hopefully will inspire you to get started on making the most of your awareness. Because all conscious leaders know that leadership starts from within. Although the audio is not perfect, the content is super relevant and practical. And what we've done is cut it up, I think into very practical and insightful chunks. So take a listen. And let me know what you think. So this week's topic is demystifying executive presence. And so I'd love to give my guest Kelly Lin the opportunity to quickly introduce herself before we get started with the questions. Kelly Lin Yes, Kelly 03:39 thank you so much for having me. I'm very excited to be here. Hello, everyone. I see everyone, whether you're joining live or listening to the replay. I am Kelly Lynn Adams, I am an executive leadership life and business coach, I am trauma informed. I started on Wall Street and then climbed the corporate ladder for 18 years working for some incredible companies in finance strategy in HR. And then I started coaching and speaking in 2009. So I love talking about executive presence. This is what I help a lot of my clients with and for and excited to be here and start the conversation. Akua Nyame-Mensah 04:11 Thank you. Thank you. Thank you so much for that. I'm really, really excited to dive into the conversation, but to just you know, get us started. Kelly Lin, can you tell us what is executive presence? I feel like I've worked with a lot of clients that have these ideas about what executive presence is and isn't. But yeah, from your perspective, what is it? And maybe what isn't it as well? Kelly 04:32 Yes, I love this question. And if you Google it, I'm going to read the definition that I found and I think it means something different for everyone. But the definition I found was executive presence is about your ability to inspire confidence. So inspiring confidence in your subordinates that you're leading, you know, or the people that are the stakeholders, right managing above managing below managing across And most importantly, it is among the people that you work with. So it can be defined in any type of way. And I know there's like seven, I like to say there's seven C's of executive presence, okay? And I love this because it's, it's your composure, right? It's the connection. It's the charisma. It's your confidence, like I said, So credibility, clarity, and consciousness. So I feel like everyone has a different definition of executive presence, but it's like, how do we actually embody that and then take it into our lives and our leadership? Akua Nyame-Mensah 05:33 Oh, I love that. I love this idea, also of the seven C's, you know, from, from your experience, where do you feel most leaders get it wrong? Or maybe don't spend as much time on in relation to those seven C's of executive presence? Kelly 05:47 Yeah. So I will say, I will pull from a lot of the folks that I coach, in the executive space, and even in the entrepreneurial space, to be honest, a lot of it comes to and this is what I'm seeing more and more is communication. Okay? Are they actually effectively communicating? Some of them? Some of my clients are like, Oh, no, I know, they, they know this, or they should know this. And it's like, Well, did you ask, did you make it known? It's like, the simplest things that we may think that someone else may know, they might not know. So that's where like, the clarity comes in, and really being conscious of the situation. And also the judgement, right? Like, oh, if I speak up, how am I going to be perceived? Is there anything as a stupid question, or if I don't know something it's in this is where like the imposter syndrome comes comes up a lot also say my clients is, can you speak up? You know, what, if you do say something wrong? What if you do speak out of turn? Right? So it's really giving ourselves permission to like, be fully embodied? And we don't talk about embodiment in the quote unquote, corporate sector, it's a lot of times tucked in and out in the entrepreneurial industries. But that, yeah, it's the fear of like, how am I going to be seen? How am I going to be judged? How am I going to sound? So that's what I'm seeing in my clients a lot is the communication and the permission to speak up when when you want to, or when you need to, oh, I love that. Akua Nyame-Mensah 07:19 And I love the fact that you have the perspective from both the entrepreneurial world and also the corporate world. So you mentioned something and for those of you listening, some of you may have heard this term before, maybe you haven't. But can you tell us a little bit about embodiment? What is embodiment? And why is it important for leaders to keep this term embodiment in mind, especially as it relates to executive presence? Kelly 07:41 Yeah, so I like to think of embodiment as does your shoes match the outfit? Oh, I'm more. Okay. Yeah. Or does the audio match the video? Right? So it's like, okay, is it? How are you showing up in the room? Are you showing up? You know, I know you're you letting your voice fill the room? Are you owning the room? Are you How is your body language? A lot of people are talking and sometimes I don't know, if you've seen in meetings, people cross their arms, or they're not open, right? They're like, Oh, it's you're crossing your arms. So when we say about embodiment, it's reading the room all like what people are saying, what they're not saying how they're actually sitting, you know, what their composure is? So it's a full on like, are you present, right? And then that's, it's really taking a stand for yourself and being able right to communicate and fill the room in a sense. So embodiment is so important because we can say something. And are we actually living it to the best of our ability, right? I don't believe in perfectionism and all of that, but it's like, are we doing the best with what we have know who we are being in the situation? And that's why I like to think of embodiment is being like Mind Body Soul all in. Akua Nyame-Mensah 09:02 Okay, yeah, I love that. One of the things that I always talk about is the importance of like, recognising that people aren't just sort of listening to what you say, but also watching what you do. And I think that relates very nicely to what you were just sharing about sort of like being the message really recognising that people are you know, they're watching you right and are your words matching what you're sharing and even potentially, do you believe what you're sharing I also think that you know, our teams people we work with can sometimes very easily see through you if you don't believe what you're saying. It's it's not authentic, it's not genuine. Kelly 09:37 Yes. And I was coaching actually someone yesterday and I love that you brought up like people can actually see right through or feel something right when you you get a gut instinct, right? And people a lot of times listen to their gut and sometimes they don't, and a lot of people also to like my client yesterday, she had a really hard time with being vulnerable. She said, I don't like being vulnerable with my team. Especially my direct reports. And because she she thought it was a sign of weakness. And I asked her when you see vulnerability in your manager or or a stakeholder or CEO or CFO, what do you think? Right? And she's like, No, I actually like, I can see the mess, like I cannot relate with them, there is a different sense of vulnerability. Some may think it's a weakness, however, it's actually a strength. So it's, it's letting our masks and our guards down. And obviously, a comfortable but uncomfortable way. I mean, vulnerability is something that I say people can step into, you know, there's different layers to it. But it's okay to be vulnerable to say, hey, I don't know this, because not everything is our zone of genius. And everyone has strengths, and everyone has weaknesses. So that's what I like to tell people too. And I was telling my client yesterday, it's like, even if you're so scared, even when you're in a boardroom, or in a meeting, where there's so many people with different credentials, and maybe they're more, quote unquote, successful than you, guess what, they all have their, their weaknesses, and they all have their strengths. So if we can look at it like that, and realise that it makes the playing field a little bit more levelled, in a sense, Akua Nyame-Mensah 11:19 yes, I love that. And I love that you were able to work with your client to help them sort of rethink the story. They were telling themselves about vulnerability. And it's a great question to ask those of you who are listening, the follow up question to that would be, you know, how do you know when to be vulnerable? Especially if you're working on executive or leadership presence? Do you have any tips for those who are listening to make sure they're able to have that, I guess that balance between, you know, coming across as someone who is competent, has business acumen, but also is able to empathise and connect with others? Kelly 11:53 Yes. So there's so many different ways you can do this. And the thing is, it's leaning on your strengths, and then owning your weaknesses. So there's so many different ways you can do this. I mean, some people are very vulnerable in giving a feedback to another person, right. So I don't know, a lot of people have heard of like the sandwich approach to feedback, right, where you start with a positive strength about the person, and then sandwich and in the middle, right, you could say this is what maybe this needs a little bit more working on this is, you know, XY and Z, like giving them the feedback, and then ending with a positive, you know, their strengths and all of that. So that's kind of one approach. But also, even, there's a lot of executives that may be starting, like new projects, or new roles, or, and this can pertain also to entrepreneurs as well. And it's saying, you know, hey, I know, I'm a little confused about what we're doing here. However, this is my feedback, and you can bring in kind of your past, this is what we have done an X y&z company, or this is the way that I saw it, when there was a similar situation related to this, you're showing your vulnerability, and you're also bringing in your strengths as well to the situation. Or sometimes it's just saying, like, I don't know this. Yeah, really just being honest. And people really respect that, right, depending on the situation, depending on the environment. This is all dependent, right, because everyone has different personalities, everyone has different environments that they're working in and navigating through. So it's really just being also practising. You're also back to the embodiment, I'll share a story, I actually went to a mastermind where we got the opportunity to move the horse with our presence and our mind. First time I went onto the onto the field to pick the horse that I wanted to move literally with my presence. Because horses aren't like dogs or any other animals, horses actually listen to your energy to your presence. So you can't wave them. You can't call them with your voice, okay, actually, like how you're standing, right? So I went onto the field in this particular situation, and the trainer is like, Okay, where do you want the horse to go? And the horse the horses back, the bottom was facing to me the horse's face was not even facing me and like, how am I gonna move this horse when it's not even looking at me? So it didn't move. And I was like, standing up, but I was really not confident. I was kind of like, is this horse gonna move? And this is what I was thinking, right? So my thoughts and my body were like, Oh, how can I move this horse? And so she's like, okay, get off the field. And she's like, I want you to come back on knowing that you are going to move this horse and demanding in your presence that the horse will move. So I went there I went off and I'm like, Okay, I was like, okay, collect yourself Kelly. I'd like really like find evidence of where in your life that you have moved something and made it happen right and really embody that back on and I was like, I just stood there and I looked at the horse and I Literally like with my whole body, and everything I had, I just stared at the horse and with my presence, I was like I am here, and you're gonna move and the horse literally turned around and turned around. And then I just like pointed my arm, my right arm. And I pointed at where I wanted the horse to go. And my presence was very solid, very authoritative, very, like no wobble, and the horse moved, right? So you can even also practice this on children, right? When children know, when you don't have boundaries, they can sense it right, when, you know, really means, uh, yesterday, you're wobbly. It's like they can sense it. So that's how I can explain kind of, like, how are you being authoritative, right? Or, you know what, you know, like that sense? And listen, sometimes we aren't 100% Confident. And it's like, how can you just be even 1% more confident, because it will show in the embodiment of the executive presence. Akua Nyame-Mensah 16:00 Oh, I love that story. I think that's such a great story. And I think there's lots of elements here that all of us can can take from from that story. I love this idea of sort of borrowing. So thinking back to a time where you felt that confidence, right, or you felt like you had the ability to do something similar and sort of bringing that into the current situation. Kelly 16:21 Yeah. And that's another thing too, is finding evidence. Right? If you can find evidence, and everyone here listening can find evidence of where you had a win, what your strength is, what situation personal or professional that you have gone through, and made it up to this point, because you're listening right now, at least one, if not 100, examples of evidence that you've gotten up to this point, and there's something that you've overcome, or you have was very confident in a situation and you can lean on that because what the brain does, it deletes and distorts. So we want to remind ourselves, our brains, our bodies of the situations that we have been through, and have navigated with confidence, and with presence. So whether that's for entrepreneurs, it could be reading testimonials, it could be collecting, you know, evidence of people that they've helped, even in professional settings, right? It's like, who did you manage? It could be the projects that you have, you know, accomplished or the wins that you've gotten, it could be 101 things, it's like, we really actively get to seek out the evidence of our wins, basically, you go back to five years old, if you want to. But it's collecting that evidence is so important. Akua Nyame-Mensah 17:43 Oh, I love that. I love that. And that's definitely something that I also share with my clients. And I think that's so incredibly important for all of us, because I'm sure all of us in here, high achievers, getting lots of things done doing doing doing delivering, you know, doing the most and so taking the time to reflect on your wins, or even creating potentially a routine around it really will help you, you know, move forward, right, and remind you of the awesome things that you've done. Kelly 18:09 Absolutely. Absolutely. And also, I was on another story, I was actually talking to my coach, and she was coaching a gentleman that was an entrepreneur and I think he had like a $20 million sales business Wow thing. And she asked him, you know, how are you so successful? Like, what do you attribute this success to? Because in sales, right, sales can very be very up and down. It can be very, you know, sometimes we don't know, he said, I listen and read to read my testimonials every single morning, he says, Make that a daily habit into his ritual. So he reminds himself right and reminds his brain pretty much he's you know, brainwashing himself into right, reminding himself of all these people that he's helped all these people and companies that he's made an impact on. So I think that's so so important, because it is critical that we remind ourselves who we are. What we are capable, because life, you know, life is life thing. Yeah. So I love that phrase, life is life. Right? And we could get caught up. There's a lot of noise out there. On social media in the news, all we are constantly getting bombarded and it's like, Okay, nope, I'm gonna get grounded. I'm gonna come back to me and my North Star, and I'm gonna fill my environments and my brain and my body. It's kind of like consumption, consumption on all levels, what we watch what we listen to what environments we put ourselves in what people we surround ourselves, and I'm going to literally put yourself in a bubble if you need to, to really remind yourself who you are, because we are we are impressionable. Right and we become the environments and the people and all the things that we consume. So I think it's super important that you We get to do that. Right. And it's a choice, right? It's kind of like brushing your teeth taking a shower. It's a daily choice. Yes. Akua Nyame-Mensah 20:06 Oh, I love it. I love it. So it's sort of like you're kind of creating I don't know if this is resonate for some of you, but the way I think of it is like the right propaganda, right? Like I am subliminal messaging by me propaganda to remind myself of my Y. Right, so that Northstar that y piece, and then also the value that I add, and I love it. Absolutely love that Kelly Lin. Yeah, Kelly 20:26 it's so important. It's so important that we also protect our peace. Yes. Protect our peace and our boundaries, right? Because we we see, right? There's a lot of things going on in the world. And then mental health also, I mean, I'm a mental health advocate. It's like, we get to take care of ourselves, right? And ask for support. And that's also executive presence, right? Everything touches everything, everything can affect everything. So yes, you might not be high vibe and positive all the time. And in the times that you do need support. This is where I also see executives, right? They're burning out, they're doing so much. And it's like, oh, who can even think about executive presence when I'm stressed? Yes, I'm working all the time. And I'm burning out. Well, guess what? Like burnout. Also, it's physical. It's emotional. And it's mental. It's just like, how are we taking care of ourselves on all planes. And it really starts sometimes we we get to just disconnect right and be with ourselves or our families or things that are going to really fill our own cups. I'm love all of that. It's also like knowing when to move the conversation for right and practice strategically thinking and, you know, mastering your body language and, and learning also how to be persuasive. Yeah, right, like, Okay, well, how are you persuasive to let the other person talk, one of my coaches said, everyone has not entered the room, unless everyone has spoken, which I thought was so interesting. Wow. Oh, wow. Right. Because this is what I do know is that all human beings, and I can make this blanket statement for all human beings. And I usually don't ever do that. But all human beings want to be seen. They want to be heard, and they want to be understood. So at the core end of it, and the bottom line is like we all want to be loved pretty much. And even if you're managing people or trying to persuade or influence is like, how are you? How are you making the other person or the group or people feel like seen, heard, understood, you know, like, calling out people's name, like I see Linden in the audience, right. And I see Jonah's and so people get that like, oh, I Oh, right. Like that. They see me. And it's a good feeling. Right? Akua Nyame-Mensah 22:41 Agreed. Agreed. You know, Kelly Lin, can you just share maybe a little bit more about where people can connect with you find out more about what you do? Or if you have any additional questions, how they can reach out? Kelly 22:53 Sure. Yeah, you can head on over to my website at Kelly Lynn adams.com. And you can sign up for my newsletter. That's really how I communicate with my community. I have all different things going on. You'll see I have a podcast, I have different programmes and things that I host as well. And then yeah, connect with me here on LinkedIn. So I'm so honoured to be a part of this Akua and the conversation and everyone that is here live, thank you so much. And for those that are listening to the replay, thank you and look forward to hearing from many of you. Akua Nyame-Mensah 23:26 All right. Thank you again. As always, thank you so much for taking the time to listen if you have any questions or any thoughts, please feel free to reach out Please also make sure that you connect with Kelly Lynn Adams on LinkedIn. We have shared all her contact details in the show notes, stay safe and stay sane


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