Executive Presence: The Invisible Skill We All Need

Jan 12
As professionals, we all know the importance of making a strong impression in the workplace. 

But what exactly is it that sets individuals apart as leaders and decision-makers? 

The answer is often referred to as executive presence. What is executive presence and how do we develop it?
Executive presence is the combination of qualities and characteristics that enable an individual to command respect and inspire confidence in their leadership abilities.

It's not just about what you say, but also how you say it and how you carry yourself.

So, how do we develop executive presence?

Here are a few tips:

👉 Master your inner dialogue.

The voices in our heads can help us plan, reflect, encourage and make sense of our daily surroundings and experiences, but they can also criticise, tear down and ultimately cripple our own self-worth.

So, how can you transform this internal dialogue into one that serves you in a positive way?

  • Ignore the negative voices.
  • Don't overthink.
  • Speak to yourself as a parent to a child.
  • Practice daily affirmations.
  • Empower others through positive language

👉 Speak with conviction.

If you don’t believe in your message, no one else will. Effective communication is about understanding and believing what you’re saying. Use less ''ifs, might, I think/believe'' and more ''when, will, I know/trust'' whenever you're confident of your knowledge. Don't create doubt when there is none.

👉 Be authentic.

Authentic leaders are true to themselves, passionate about living their purpose and adding value to others. Executive presence shows your audience how you walk the talk. Any level of dishonesty is a detriment to you, your brand, and to your audience.

👉 Know your audience.

One of the best ways to elevate executive presence is to know your audience. As you prepare for any business communication, anticipate questions you might get. 

This is particularly important when facing executives. They are experts at finding gaps in logic, spotty research, or pointing out problematic conclusions. If you have thought through potential questions and points of contention, you will be well-prepared to respond.

👉 Think fast & know how to deal with uncertainty.

Don’t become paralysed by uncertainty! Acting in the face of uncertainty is easier said than done. Nevertheless, leadership requires courage. For many leaders, decision-making difficulties increase as the unknowns multiply. Yet, you cannot afford to stand still in the face of ambiguity. You must be willing to act even without what you consider to be complete information.

Gather the best data available to you and move forward. 

👉 Ace your body language.

From the moment you walk in the door, step up to the podium, or sit down at a conference table, your body is busy telling people all about you.

Here's what you should do:

  • Stand tall.
  • Keep your head level.
  • Position your chin properly.
  • Walk in a calm, purposeful way.
  • Make eye contact.
  • Use facial expressions to reinforce your interest.
  • Offer a firm handshake.
  • Use gestures to reinforce communication.
  • Cultivate a pleasing, yet strong presence.

By working on these areas, you can improve your executive presence and become a more effective leader.

If you like this post, check out this programme for skills development.
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