What is the “X” Factor in Business?

Simon Cowell and his hefty team of judges will be launching their new reality show later this week, entitled The X Factor. This got me thinking: what really is the ‘X’ factor in business? We all know there is one – it is that “thing” that successful executives and leaders have that simply sets them apart from the pack. It is more than just solid performance, track records, and business acumen. It is that extra “something.” It goes without saying that doing your job well – in fact, better than most – is the ticket to entry for a successful career. It also is a known reality that who you know and how you connect is also a critical success factor. So what else factors into making up that “x-tra” something that defines you as a leader? A few thoughts:

  • Substance – to me, this is all about sharing what you know, what you have experienced, and what you believe in a powerful, credible way. This is not to be mistaken with arrogance, smugness, or even overzealous bearing. This is having an inner backbone and a sense of being centered in thought, word and deed. By having this gravitas, one communicates in a way that conveys confidence and instills confidence in others.
  • Style – this is all about carrying yourself in a way that is undeniably YOU. And frankly, this is also about how you actually look. Of course, I am a believer of not judging a book by its cover; however, in the business arena, how we “show up” can absolutely define how others perceive us. Our dress, our hair, and even our accessories are all a part of our personal brand and how we are remembered. In addition, how we talk, our mannerisms, our etiquette, our voice, our accent, and our approach – all can be differentiators. Think about Lady Gaga – it is not enough that she can sing and play the piano; it is how she “shows up” which is totally and 100% unique to her. That is what has made her a star. Period. The same is true in business. I am not suggesting pink hair or naked body suits; however, I am suggesting creating a style which is uniquely your own and represents who you are. Then, be consistent with it. This is how you “show up” and people will remember you.
  • Authenticity – I have written a lot about authenticity, as I believe this is one of the single most powerful leadership attributes. Being real – down to your core – is the ultimate factor in the ‘x’ factor. You can read more about what I mean by this in these two prior articles: Authenticity 2.0 and Authenticity: the New Buzz Word or the Real Deal?

Finally, being in alignment – in mind, body and spirit – is the required fuel for the ‘X’ factor. It is not enough to have substance, talent, smarts, style and even authenticity if all of YOU is not in alignment through your mind, body and spirit. Simply put: aligned individuals and leaders are unflappable, and motivated by a deeply felt purpose. As Oprah Winfrey offers: “The secret is alignment: when you know for sure that you’re on course, and doing exactly what you are supposed to be doing, fulfilling your soul’s intention…when your life is on a course with its purpose, you are your most powerful.” Who can argue that Oprah Winfrey does not embody the ‘X’ factor?

So, if you are interested in exploring how to shift perceptions, make heads turn, increase your relevance, build your credibility, and, in short, improve your “X Factor” potential, reach out to me! This is not the “fluff” in business – this is the real “X-executive presence”!