Executive Presence

What is executive presence and how can you develop yours?

According to Forbes, “in its simplest terms, executive presence is about your ability to inspire confidence — inspiring confidence in your subordinates that you’re the leader they want to follow, inspiring confidence among peers that you’re capable and reliable and, most importantly, inspiring confidence among senior leaders that you have the potential for great achievements.” As with many of the attributes that contribute to executive presence, this is a competency that can be developed.

7 key components of developing executive presence:

  1. Credibility. To be successful as a leader, your colleagues must have faith in your knowledge, skills, and abilities. They need to believe in you and trust that you will do the right thing. Your credibility as a leader is a crucial component of developing executive presence.
  2. Character. Character goes hand-in-hand with credibility. Leading with character includes having an open mind and open door, an inclusive style, a positive, encouraging spirit, and an unwavering level of integrity. You treat others with respect and dignity. You keep your word and your promises. You honor your commitments. Demonstrating character in leadership strengthens your executive presence.
  3. Communication. Effective communication is a key competency for leaders who wish to develop their executive presence. The ability to clearly articulate your ideas and plans, to be a good listener, to display empathy and understanding, to provide inspiration and motivation, and to persuade others are all important components of executive presence. Learn more about how to develop effective communication skills here.
  4. Comportment. Examining executive presence includes evaluating how you comport yourself. Take time to consider your appearance and ensure your style adequately reflects how you want others to see you. Pay attention to other aspects of how you come across such as your attitude, tone of voice, level of gravitas, how you display emotion, and how you demonstrate your levels of interest, energy, and enthusiasm. Strive for a positive, approachable demeanor, open body language, establish good eye contact, listen without interrupting, and carry yourself with an air of confidence.
  5. Command. The ability to take command, lead teams, accomplish goals, and confront challenges demonstrate executive presence. Strengths in decisiveness, strategic thinking, flexibility, delegating to and developing others, problem solving, and handling crises are all competencies that lead to a strong executive presence.
  6. Comfort. Executive presence requires a level of comfort and ease with the leadership role. When you are able to manage stress and emotions, you can become more comfortable in your leadership role even during challenging times. Your comfort level can be aided by building your mindfulness muscle, taking care of your mental and physical health by practicing self-care, and cultivating a culture of empathy. When you are relaxed and comfortable with your leadership role, it becomes easier to gain confidence.
  7. Confidence. We saved the most important executive presence competency for last. The ability to demonstrate and inspire confidence is crucial to developing executive presence. When you exude confidence externally, you will feel more confident internally. And when you have confidence in yourself and your abilities, others tend to have more confidence in you. Try these tips for building your confidence as a leader.

With greater credibility, character, effective communication, attention to your comportment, ability to take command, enhanced comfort in your leadership role, and confidence in yourself and your leadership, you can develop your executive presence and lead like a boss. Go get ‘em tiger!

Further reading:

Executive Presence Isn’t One-Size-Fits-All. Here’s How to Develop Yours.

Executive Presence: 8 Characteristics and Tips for Developing It

Executive Presence: The Missing Link Between Merit and Success

Executive Presence: Step Into Your Power, Convey Confidence, & Lead With Conviction

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