In the world of leadership, there comes a point in one's career when the term "executive presence" enters the conversation. It's that juncture when you find yourself with increased visibility in your organization, and suddenly, how people, including senior levels, perceive you becomes crucial. You receive feedback along the lines of, "You need to work on your executive presence," but what exactly does that mean? To complicate matters, there are numerous misconceptions surrounding this elusive quality.
During my time in the corporate world, I, too, grappled with the notion of executive presence. I believed that to exude executive presence, I needed to “act more like a man.” Over the years, I've coached male leaders who believed it meant impeccable grooming or dressing to impress. It's not uncommon for leaders to have these misconceptions, and often, the process of demystifying executive presence begins with understanding what it is not.
It's often easier for organizations to pinpoint when someone lacks executive presence—when an individual is overly reticent or excessively talkative, when emotions become a stumbling block, when punctuality or professionalism falters, or when nervous fidgeting or rambling takes over. These outward signs of unprofessional behavior, whether in appearance, language, or demeanor, are easier to identify. However, explaining what executive presence is can be a more nuanced challenge.
Identifying executive presence is a personalized journey unique to each leader receiving feedback. One helpful approach is to consider three fundamental questions regarding how people perceive you:
These questions prompt leaders to reflect on the alignment between their words and actions, a central aspect of authenticity. After all, authenticity is about being genuine and consistent in presenting yourself. It's not a facade or an attempt to mimic someone else's style; instead, it's about being true to your values, strengths, and personality.
Authenticity plays a pivotal role in boosting credibility and fostering genuine connections, which, in turn, supports your executive presence. Here's how:
Remember that authenticity is not a one-size-fits-all concept in your journey to enhance your executive presence. It's about embracing who you are, understanding your unique strengths and values, and confidently bringing your true self to your role as a leader.
Here are some actionable steps to incorporate authenticity into your executive presence:
Executive presence is a dynamic quality that evolves with personal growth and self-awareness. By prioritizing authenticity in how you show up consistently and working on being more authentic, you'll not only elevate your executive presence but also leave a lasting, positive impact as a leader.
Ready to elevate your executive presence? Take the next step and work with me to enhance your authenticity and elevate your executive presence—and, in turn, your career. Together, we'll unlock your full leadership potential and help you leave a lasting, positive impact on your organization.