4 key ways to have better executive presence

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In today’s hiring environment companies are screening not only for experience and attitude but for presence. Competency and grit are not enough. You must also have good internal and external self-awareness and self-regulation. In leadership positions that translates to executive presence.


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Executive presence is a sense of being that indicate to others that you know what it takes to lead and be effective. It sends a commanding signal that you know how to harmonize your temperament, confidence, skillset and awareness to get the job done. You know when someone has it. And you know when they don’t. The people who have it are the ones other people look to first.

Can executive presence be developed? Yes – if you have a baseline of self-confidence and a willingness to find ease when dealing with the unpredictable situations at the executive level.

Know What Executive Presence Is

Qualities of Great Executive Presence: 

  1. Curiosity
  2. Tenacity
  3. Certainty
  4. Poise
  5. Resourcefulness
  6. Positivity
  7. Grit
  8. Consistency
  9. Transparency
  10. Strategy
  11. Humility
  12. Not emotional
  13. Good listener
  14. Nonjudgmental
  15. Not risk-averse
  16. Inclusiveness
  17. Leverages his/her assets

Notice Your Behavior

When you want to build executive presence start with paying attention to your own behavior. Self-awareness falls into two categories – internal and external. One is not good without the other. You may be so in-tune with your feelings that your own world consumes all your attention, detaching you from others. Or you may be so focused externally on what others think that you deny your own purpose.

The goal is to become a curious third-party observer of yourself and others – to be mindful of your own behavior and that of others without assuming any judgment. “I notice that I am feeling threatened by her abrupt tone. I wonder what has annoyed her. I’ll ask.” is far more productive than, “She is so rude and obnoxious.”

Don’t Judge Yourself or Others

When we judge others, we subliminally judge ourselves far worse. We minimize our own effectiveness by using the behavior of others as an excuse for our judgments, underperformance, self-doubt or ineffectiveness. And to make matters worse if we tell other people our judgmental assumptions, it makes us look petty, stripping our executive presence. Good leaders don’t criticize. They redirect, coach and inspire.

Self-Regulate Your Emotions

When you have good internal and external self-awareness you are then able to self-regulate your emotions before they show. You can say to yourself, “I am angry that he hasn’t done what he was supposed to. I could erupt or complain about him but instead I choose to ask if he understood what was due today, give a clear directive on when I want it and get buy-in on the front end of the next deliverable.”

If you want more executive presence tips here’s a link to the FREE eBook – 31 Executive Presence Practices for Leaders in the High Stakes Corporate World.

Mary Lee Gannon, ACC, CAE is an executive coach and corporate CEO who helps busy leaders get off the treadmill to nowhere to be more effective, earn more, be more calm and enjoy connected relationships with the people who matter while it still matters. Watch her FREE Master Class training on Three Things to Transform Your Life and Career Right Now at www.MaryLeeGannon.com.