Establishing Executive Presence: An Introduction

Executive presence describes individuals who have endearing qualities that allow them to lead others effectively. These individuals draw people in and exude self-confidence with humility. Business owners, leaders and employees can cultivate an executive presence by developing behaviors and characteristics that enhance their careers and pave the way for new opportunities. Here is an explanation of what executive presence is, why it is important and how you can establish it to refine your persona. 


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What is executive presence?

Executive presence is a skill that allows you to display a general sense of leadership, poise, dignity, decisiveness and confidence. Executive presence also includes the characteristics of a balanced leader such as the ability to work under pressure and communicate efficiently. Your executive presence lets others know that you are capable of great achievements. 

Related: What are the Qualities of a Truly Great Business Mentor?


Why is executive presence important?

Executive presence is important to your business success because it shows that you are a capable leader who others want to follow. It has a strong impact on your career and the impressions you make on advocates and sponsors, which can provide you with further opportunities. Executive presence assures those around you that you are competent enough to make meaningful contributions to business outcomes. Cultivating a strong executive presence may help you feel more confident and well-rounded. 


How to establish your executive presence

Here are some steps you may take to establish your executive presence:


1. Cultivate your vision

To establish your executive presence, develop a vision or a well-conceived idea about things you would like to accomplish. Your vision should be attainable and easy to communicate to others in any situation, whether you are pitching to stakeholders or telling your team about it in a meeting. The way you communicate your vision can inspire confidence in the individuals you’re communicating with.


When you communicate your vision with decisive excitement, your audience is likely to believe you have what it takes to make your vision for your company a reality. 


2. Change your perception

It is important to understand how others perceive you to cultivate executive presence. As you run your business or take on executive leadership roles, you must rely on others to help you and your company succeed. Your employees should see you as someone who is trustworthy and worth following . 


Consult with your mentors or ask for feedback from your employees or peers to understand their perception of you. Based on the feedback you receive, adapt your behavior and habits accordingly to show that you can handle yourself well in multiple situations and settings. 


3. Practice your communication skills

Leadership and executive presence depend on the way you communicate with and listen to others. Your tone of voice, word choice and your ability to use eye contact are all part of your overall delivery that shapes the way people perceive you. Practice communicating by engaging in conversations with your employees and peers. Limit distractions and repeat information back to them to practice active listening. 


Ask your team for feedback about your communication style to gain a better understanding of your current communication skills. This may help you to identify areas of improvement to focus your attention on. 


4. Build your network

Focus on building and maintaining relationships with vendors, partners, stakeholders, employees and other people who come into contact with your company. This displays your ability to connect with others to meet organizational goals, and it shows you care about the individuals who help your company function efficiently.


5. Learn how to manage your stress

When you learn to remain calm and reduce your stress during critical times at work, you display executive presence. Keeping calm helps inspire confidence in your employees. They may trust your leadership if you show that you are even-keeled and in control at all times. Your reactions set the tone for your entire team. This means that when you remain calm, your team is likely to remain calm too. 


6. Present yourself well

Your appearance matters to those you lead. First impressions are powerful, and most people notice your appearance before they notice anything else about you. Make sure your appearance is neat, clean and appropriate for the setting you are attending. 


FAQs about executive presence 

Here are some frequently asked questions about executive presence:


What are some traits and behaviors associated with executive presence?

Some traits and behaviors associated with executive presence are:


  • Emotional intelligence: Leaders with executive presence understand how to connect to the conscious and unconscious expectations of others by using their emotional intelligence. 
  • Transparency: Those with executive presence are genuine and honest about their flaws. 
  • Humility: Humble leaders are willing to make mistakes and admit what their fears and drawbacks are. 
  • Charisma: Charismatic individuals often display executive presence by their positive body language, humor and ability to connect with people. 
  • Integrity: Individuals with executive presence do the right thing for the right reasons and stick to their convictions. 

Read more: 7 Effective Skills to Help You Become a Better Leader


What can I do to show I have executive presence?

Here are some things you may do to show you have an executive presence:


  • Be willing to take risks to achieve greater things.
  • Do what is right, even if no one else is doing it.
  • Admit your mistakes and learn from them. 
  • Thank your team for organizational success.
  • Take action despite self-doubt.
  • Accept compliments graciously. 


Can I learn executive presence?

You can learn executive presence by practicing behaviors that exhibit your belief in yourself such as speaking clearly, answering questions assuredly and holding your head high. The best time to practice these behaviors is during meetings, presentations or during your daily interactions with colleagues. Executive presence takes practice, and it is a skill that comes from experience with leadership and confidence that is genuine and not boastful. 


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