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Women at Uber on how to build the leadership X-factor

August 17 / Global

Written by Kui Mbugua, General Manager, Uber Eats Kenya

What is the leadership X-factor and how do you channel it? To find out, our Women at Uber Employee Resource Group recently hosted two experts on executive presence through the voice: Professor Alexandra Carter, Clinical Professor of Law and Director of the Mediation Clinic at Columbia Law School, and Anne Marie Nest-Pinero, Executive Communication Coach and Voice & Speech Specialist. 

Women at Uber empowers people across the company to engage in experiences that further their professional advancement and development into strong leaders and self-advocates. This Executive Presence Workshop focused on sharing research-backed strategies for choosing the best language when entering work conversations and speaking with confidence to help attendees advocate for themselves by developing executive presence—aka the leadership X-factor.

Looking to develop executive presence? Try these tips.


Clarity, confidence and command

Executive presence can be the missing link between merit and success. It impacts your ability to inspire confidence in others to believe in and follow you. It also requires the ability to communicate clearly. Speaking with precision and confidence demonstrates that you believe what you are saying and with command to convey that the other party can feel secure in the knowledge that you’ve got this.

Use your self-awareness to guide you

Executive presence is not something you’re born with. It’s a set of behaviors you can learn, and one of the best ways of cultivating executive presence is to build self-awareness—internally and externally. Internal self-awareness is understanding who you are, your strengths, and your growth areas. External self-awareness is understanding how you come across to others.

Lead with why

Communicating powerfully means leading with the ‘why’. Why are we taking this approach? Why should people follow you? Helping people understand why is the fastest way to gain influence and communicate with power. To articulate why, ask yourself: what’s at stake? or what will the future look like if we accomplish this?

Use silence to land the plane

Silence can convey confidence and command. Sometimes we over-explain or even sabotage ourselves with our words. For example: “Here is the proposal…I know this seems complicated but…” vs. “The proposal covers three areas. What questions do you have?” Landing the plane means you make your proposal, or ask your question, and then…you stop talking. 

To put this into action, try adopting the formula: “Here’s what I’m asking and here’s how we all benefit.” This framing helps you succinctly make your ask and convey leadership and collaboration.

Replace I think with I know

Or better yet, just state your point. Replace “I’m sorry” with “thank you”. Replace “but” with “and”. Replace “does that make sense?” with “what questions do you have?” or “what are your thoughts?”

Having an executive presence is not about the amount of time you speak. It is about the quality of the connections you make with each individual. Overall, you want to communicate with fewer fillers, vocal fry, or signals of self-doubt and speak with power and conviction.

Interested in joining our Women at Uber ERG? Explore our open roles