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Finding Executive Presence

Updated: Jan 25

Executive presence, often defined as ”The ability to project gravitas confidence, poise and decisiveness under pressure” accounts for more than 25% of what it takes to get promoted according to the Center for Talent Innovation.

Presence, while important in opportunities for promotion, is equally important in the ability to influence and communicate in a manner that inspires others to engage and act. Presence is a “what do you believe about yourself” issue as much as an issue of mechanics.

First some of the mechanics associated with Executive Presence include:

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Composure (Emotional Intelligence): The ability to control your emotions. Self awareness, empathy, self regulation and awareness of others.

Connection: Engaging others and listening to hear; being in the moment

Communication: Adapting to their style, attending to your body language and the clarity and conviction of your message.

Confidence: Exhibited through posture, eye contact, dress and composure

The “what do you believe about yourself” underpins presence. Presence is a function of how comfortable you are in your skin. The behaviors that communicate the lack of, or abundance of, presence are a result of those beliefs. If you believe that you don’t belong, the mechanics won’t fix that. If you fear being “found out”, the mechanics won’t fix that. If you fear being ridiculed for your ideas or opinions, the mechanics won’t fix that…………and so on.

So, some suggestions on becoming more comfortable:

First, simply accept that you're flawed………we all are. “We cannot change, we cannot move away from what we are, until we thoroughly accept what we are. Then change seems to come about almost unnoticed” (Carl Rogers).

Ignoring fears multiplies them, so name them and reflect on how they shape your behaviors. Put them in perspective and ask yourself “what is it you’re really afraid of”? Then determine who or what defines you and who or what are you willing to let define you.

Don’t live your life through the eyes of others. Work to let go of the need to have the approval of others, the willingness to allow them to define who you are and how you feel about yourself.

Finally embrace the emerging reality around you understanding who you are and that you can learn your way through most anything. If you believe in you, others will as well. With either success or failure, it’s a journey of learning and becoming inner directed and other focused. .“If we fear failure and stop taking risks, we will fail.” (Quinn)

Through this process of reflection and commitment to being inner directed, you’ll begin to more fully and naturally exhibit the mechanics of composure and confidence that communicate Executive Presence.

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