Executive Presence – what is it and how do you get it?

Executive Presence is a term that has been around leadership circles for a few years but exactly what it is can be confusing. There is not much clarity or consistency as to how the idiom is used.

According to a 2012 study by the Centre for Talent Innovation, a non-profit research organisation in New York, “being perceived as leadership material is essential to being promoted into leadership positions.” The 268 executives
surveyed said “executive presence” counts for 26% of what it takes to be promoted.

So what is the art of Executive Presence?

The term describes the potential for getting into – and remaining – in the executive suite. The study revealed three areas that govern the perception of ‘leadership material’: the ability to stand out and project gravitas – poise under pressure, confidence, and decisiveness; high level communication skills including public speaking, assertiveness, and the ability to read people, audiences and workplace situations are necessary components; and your appearance – dressing like an executive is most important.

Influencing skills, a major part of emotional intelligence, is vital. People who exhibit executive presence are inspiring and have magnetism, the ability to easily connect with and influence others. They speak up, use strong and clear language, communicate with energy and passion, and display positive body language. They are recognised as someone who doesn’t rely on their authority or job title, but can influence and shape outcomes of situations positively.

Forbes contributor, Glen Llopis, writes that executive presence is the new normal and a critical success factor in high-performance workplace cultures. He lists several characteristics of executive presence including:

  • Your presence is felt once you walk into a room
  • You inspire people and are likeable and trustworthy
  • You are perceived as important, valued and respected
  • You are social, well read and share fresh perspectives
  • You share and create opportunities for others
  • You have an elegant way of approaching, engaging, and getting to know others

See the complete list

Impression Management – a key part of career success

Paul Aldo, who heads up an Atlanta-based consultancy in the US, has identified and tracked a list of nine qualities, or themes of personal engagement, which he says consistently characterise executive presence. People who have presence project these qualities in a natural and authentic way.

Aldo says that “exploiting our expressive tools is called impression management and it’s a big part of executive success. It determines how we come across to others and engage with them, giving them a more complete context for evaluating who we are.”

Executive Presence is as important as your current job

“Creating executive presence and focusing on career advancement is a separate, part-time job that deserves almost as much attention as your current assignment,” says Joel Garfinkle, who helps clients develop their presence and works to overcome common career roadblocks. He considers it is something that is practiced, learned and developed over time and you need to be dedicated and honed in your approach to reach your full potential.

How do you develop Executive Presence?

At behind closed doors, we offer expert mentors, coaches and programs to support you in the development and expansion of your UVP (unique value proposition – and selling points). Being authentic and true to your values are key aspects of executive presence and we advise and assist you with your own distinctive expression of executive presence so that you are true to your core self.

  • Has someone said to you “You need to improve your presence”?
  • Have you been told the reason you didn’t get a role through a recruitment agency was because you are over qualified?
  • Have you wondered why you keep missing out on promotions even though you are more talented?

It may be because you are not demonstrating executive presence.

Let us hear your comments about the importance of Executive Presence!

Warm wishes Donny

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