Do You Set Yourself Apart with Executive Presence? (5-Question ✅-Up)

Published on April 10, 2022

Executive presence is a key factor distinguishing a great leader from the rest. It’s the special blend of behavior and temperament that drives success, conveys gravitas and commands respect from others. Executive presence not only helps leaders stand out and inspire others -- it’s a must-have quality to drive professional advancement.

Here are five questions to evaluate where your executive presence strengths and weaknesses lie. If you lack some essential qualities, take steps to address gaps and set yourself up for stronger success going forward.

1. Are You a Master of Communication?

Possessing executive presence means demonstrating excellence in verbal and nonverbal communication. Clearly and concisely, you share ideas, answer questions and address concerns. You use effective body language and eye contact to convey confidence and warmth, both face-to-face and on camera. This highlights intellectual and social prowess to others -- and elevates the impressions you make on behalf of yourself and your company.

2. Do You Take Advantage of the Power of Silence?

It may sound counterintuitive, but not talking can be just as powerful as saying something. Silence helps strong, self-assured leaders stand out from those who feel uncomfortable and compelled to say something just to fill the airspace. Being enough at ease and in command of situations to take deliberate pauses and allow for moments of silence – such as allowing time for key statements and rhetorical questions to sink in – is a very powerful strategy to wield if you have executive presence.

3. Are You an Active Listener?

A great leader is more than an inspiring manager and mentor. It's also someone who listens attentively, taking in all verbal and nonverbal cues. Besides building trust and likability by making others feel heard, when you have executive presence, you know that careful, intuitive listening is critical to get to the core of challenges and conflicts, find solutions and convey respect for others (even when disagreeing). When managing global teams and clients, this level of attention also helps you display culturally competent leadership, wherein you observe and adapt to different social norms proactively and appropriately.

4. Do You Display Authenticity in Character and Values?

The character and values that effective leaders possess – courage, optimism, integrity and discretion, to name a few – speak to executive presence. To be accepted as an authentic leader, what you see in yourself must align with what others see in you too. This requires keen self-awareness and tuning into others’ perceptions: what am I all about and how do I show that? What do others see in me? Be mindful of how employees perceive you. Understand that the impact of your actions is what enables you to inspire, motivate and delegate responsibility to your team.

5. Do You 'Keep Calm & Carry On' in Challenges?

The ability to think on your own feet and respond creatively to challenges – both calmly and quickly – is a hallmark of executive presence. This can manifest in different ways, like diffusing tense situations with well-timed humor. Above all, preparedness to evaluate problems and take action is key, especially when facts are still developing or the outlook is uncertain. Importantly, while heightened stress is natural in such situations, leaders with executive presence aren't overtly rattled by things. Calm command can help you deescalate and reassure those around you not to panic.

Executive presence is often thought of as an “it” factor that people either have or lack. In reality, it’s a constellation of factors that can be improved upon through feedback, training and practice. Executive coaching is a highly effective means of targeting and improving upon executive presence deficiencies, especially if you’re not sure where to begin or desire better results, faster. Whether or not you seek the expertise of a coach, you should invest some time into strengthening executive presence because it will impact your career trajectory and success as a leader.

Contact us for help improving your executive presence.

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