Executive presence: the one leadership quality no one told you about
By Julian Lewis • October 6, 2022
Think about the last time you met someone who just exuded confidence. Maybe they had an easy way of carrying themselves or spoke in a commanding yet relaxed manner. Whatever it was, you probably left the interaction feeling impressed.
While executive presence is often spoken about in relation to senior executives and those in upper management, this quality is just as important for anyone who wants to be a good leader in their field. After all, if you can't command respect and attention from those around you, how can you hope to lead them?
Tell me the meaning of executive presence.
Executive presence at work, meaning the ability to make an impact and be remembered even in small interactions, is a crucial skill to develop. It's knowing how to walk into a room and own it-no matter the situation.
Executive presence is about more than just looking the part (although that's important, too). It's about having a certain presence or "aura" that commands respect and attention. And it's about having the skills to back it up.
Why it's important to build this presence?
In today's competitive job market, it's more important than ever to be able to stand out and be noticed in a good way. With so many qualified candidates vying for the same positions, those who can project an air of confidence and authority are more likely to get ahead.
Creating an executive presence can also help you to be taken more seriously in the workplace and to earn the respect of your peers and superiors. When you're seen as a leader, you're more likely to be given opportunities to take on leadership roles and to have a greater impact on your organization.
5 skills of people with strong executive presence
So, what does it take to develop your executive presence? Here are five key skills that you can work on.
One of the most important aspects to develop your executive presence is confidence. This doesn't mean that you need to be arrogant or overbearing, but you should believe in yourself and your abilities.
Part of being confident is also being comfortable in your own skin. You should be able to hold your head up high and make eye contact with others, even when you're feeling nervous or out of your element.
If you have trouble with confidence, try practicing positive self-talk and visualization techniques. picturing yourself succeeding in various situations can help you to boost your confidence and feel more prepared when the time comes.
Clarity and communication skills
Being an effective communicator is essential for anyone in a leadership role. When you're able to speak clearly and concisely, people are more likely to listen to you and take you seriously.
Part of having great communication skills is being aware of your audience. You should be able to adjust your language and style based on who you're speaking to. For example, public speaking skills are different from one-on-one conversation skills. You wouldn't speak to a group of potential clients in the same way that you would speak to a team member.
It's also important to be able to effectively tell a compelling story. When you're able to share your experiences in a way that is interesting and relatable, people are more likely to pay attention and remember what you've said.
Leaders need to be able to make decisions quickly and confidently. This can be difficult, especially when you're second-guessing yourself or unsure of the best course of action.
One way to become more decisive is to practice mindfulness. When you're in the moment and aware of your thoughts and feelings, you're less likely to get caught up in indecision. Mindful leadership coaching can be a very helpful tool to become a mindful leader.
Another helpful tip is to trust your gut instinct. More often than not, your first instinct is the right one. If you're struggling to make a decision, try taking some time to think it over, then go with your gut feeling.
Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another person. It's an important quality for any leader, as it allows you to build strong relationships and connect with others on a deeper level.
When you're able to empathize with someone, you're able to see things from their perspective and understand their needs. This can be helpful in both personal and professional relationships.
If you want to build your empathy skills, try practicing active listening. This involves really paying attention to what the other person is saying, both verbally and non-verbally. Another helpful tip is to put yourself in someone else's shoes and imagine how they might be feeling.
Finally, it's important to be flexible in both your thinking and your actions. Leaders who are inflexible tend to be resistant to change, which can limit their ability to adapt and grow.
Instead, try to be open-minded and willing to consider new ideas. When you're flexible in your thinking, you're more likely to come up with creative solutions to problems.
It's also important to be flexible in your actions. This means being willing to change your plans if something isn't working out. For example, if you're giving a presentation and you can tell that your audience isn't responding well, it might be necessary to adjust on the fly.
Maintaining your composure under pressure is another important skill for leaders. This doesn't mean that you have to be stoic and emotionless, but it does mean that you should be able to keep a level head in difficult or challenging situations.
One way to stay composed is to practice deep breathing exercises. This can help to calm your mind and body so that you're better able to think clearly and make decisions.
It's also important to be aware of your body language. When you're feeling calm and confident, it will show in your posture and facial expressions. On the other hand, if you're feeling stressed or overwhelmed, it's likely that your body language will reflect that.
By paying attention to your body language, you can make a conscious effort to display confidence, even when you're feeling nervous or unsure.
Last but not least, leaders need to be charismatic. This doesn't mean that you have to be a natural-born entertainer, but it does mean that you should be able to engage and inspire others.
When you're charismatic, people are drawn to you and want to follow your lead. This can be helpful in both personal and professional relationships.
If you want to build your charisma, try focusing on your communication skills. This includes both verbal and non-verbal communication.
It's also important to be aware of your body language. When you're charismatic, you tend to have an open and inviting posture, and you make eye contact with others.
Finally, try to radiate positive energy. This can be contagious, and it will make people want to be around you.
How to develop executive presence?
So, how can you develop your own leadership presence? Building executive presence in leadership takes time and effort, but it's a worthwhile investment.
Executive presence coaching can be a great resource to help you identify your strengths and weaknesses, and set goals for improvement. Here are some guidelines to get you started upping your leadership skills:
1. Establish your personal brand.
Leading with executive presence starts with knowing who you are, what you stand for, and what your leadership style is. Developing a personal brand and leadership style will help you communicate your unique value proposition, build trust with others, and inspire confidence.
2. Be aware of your nonverbal cues.
Your nonverbal communication—the way you carry yourself, the way you speak, and your overall demeanor—says a lot about your confidence and ability to be a leader. Make sure your nonverbal cues are conveying the message you want to send.
3. Communicate with clarity and conviction.
When you're communicating with others, be clear and concise in your message. Be confident in your delivery, and make sure you're conveying the right tone.
4. Be a thoughtful listener.
Executive presence isn't just about what you say—it's also about how you listen. Listening skills are one of the most important leadership qualities. Pay attention to the person you're speaking with, and be sure to engage in active listening.
5. Dress the part.
Your appearance also plays a role in your executive presence. Make sure you're dressing for the job you want, and that your clothes reflect your leadership position and support the message you want to send.
6. Take care of yourself.
To display confidence and ease, it's important to take care of yourself both physically and mentally. Most great leaders make sure they get enough rest, eat well, and exercise regularly. And don't forget to take time for yourself—schedule some personal time into your week to relax and de-stress.
By following these tips, you can start honing your executive presence and setting yourself up for success.
How to practice executive presence
If you want to work on your executive presence and be a successful leader, there are a few key areas you can focus on. Here are a few executive presence exercises to help you improve in each area:
1. Voice projection
Practice speaking in a clear, strong voice. This will help you project confidence and authority.
2. Body language
Pay attention to your posture, gestures, and facial expressions. Make sure you are conveying the message you want to send.
Focus on being present in the moment. This means being aware of your surroundings and engaging with the people around you.
Believe in yourself and your ability to lead. This will come across in your interactions with others.
Learn to communicate effectively. This includes being clear and concise when speaking and listening attentively when others are talking.
Spend some time observing people in leadership positions who you feel have a strong executive presence. What qualities do they possess? How do they carry themselves? Try to emulate those qualities in your own behavior.
And finally, practice, practice, practice! Whether you do it on your own, as part of a professional development group, or with the assistance of an executive presence coach, the more you work on honing your executive presence, the more natural it will become. By focusing on these key areas, you can develop the executive presence that will help you be successful in your career.
Benefits of having a good executive presence
When it comes to success in the business world, developing executive presence is essential. This term refers to the ability to project confidence, authority, and professionalism. Those who have a stronger executive presence are typically seen as more credible and successful by their peers and superiors.
There are many benefits that come with having a good executive presence.
Helps with networking
A strong executive presence can help with networking. This is because people are more likely to want to connect with someone who comes across as being successful and credible.
Improves customer relations
Good executive presence can help improve customer relations. This is because when customers see confident and professional individuals, they are more likely to trust them.
Helps leaders manage their teams
Developing executive presence can also help leaders manage their teams. This is because when people see their leader as being confident and competent, they are more likely to trust and respect them.
Facilitates leadership development
Having a good executive presence can also facilitate leadership development. This is because those who are seen as confident and professional are often seen as potential leaders. If you have a first-time or mid-level manager struggling with their responsibilities, have you considered executive presence coaching as a part of the solution?
Improves organizational performance
Good executive presence can also improve organizational performance. This is because when people see the leaders of their organization as being competent and successful, they are more likely to be inspired to do their best work. Executive presence training for employees is an effective way to quickly invest in a team and boost their productivity and engagement.
Executive presence is therefore essential for anyone who wants to be successful in the business world. It is a critical leadership quality that is often overlooked.
Executive presence coaching and inner presence coaching can be extremely helpful in developing the skills necessary to project confidence and authority. These types of coaching can help individuals learn how to be more present and authentic in their interactions with others.
Coaching for executive presence can help individuals in all aspects of their professional lives, from networking to customer relations to leadership development.
By focusing on improving your own executive presence examples, you can set yourself up for success in your career.
Read more about: Executive Coaching
About Julian Lewis
Julian Lewis is a driven and accomplished professional with a passion for driving positive change in the business world. As the co-founder and COO at Zella Life, a coaching on-demand platform, he is working to bridge the diversity gap between diverse talent and internal team leaders. His own experience as a professional of color in a Fortune 500 company led him to discover the limitations for advancement that many professionals like himself face. Determined to reach his full potential, Julian became an established business coach and entrepreneur, committed to supporting others who have been culturally conditioned to remain silent in their pursuit of personal and professional growth.
Today, Julian is a recognized corporate trainer, coach, and leader, known for his ability to leverage real-life experiences and evidence-based methodologies to affect positive change within individuals and organizations. As the leader of Zella Life's coaching division, he is dedicated to empowering individuals and businesses to achieve their full potential. Julian's unique perspective and passion for coaching make him a valuable asset to any organization.