How to Command Executive Presence

Executive presence plays a major role in your success. This is shaped by your emotional intelligence, image, interactions with, and impressions on others both in-person and online.

The capacity to exude a broad feeling of calm, confidence, decisiveness, and dignity is known as “executive presence.” This concept also refers to the qualities of a good leader. Executive presence allows people to perform effectively under pressure and communicate clearly and efficiently, as well as analyze an environment or scenario and know exactly how to manage it. It is a demeanor that clearly communicates to those around you that you are in control, confident, and capable of leading others.

Consider a few leaders you respect and appreciate. They are likely to have at least some of the following characteristics and abilities:

They have the ability to motivate and inspire others.

They have a style of speaking that easily draws people in.

They have the ability to concentrate and communicate a clear vision.

They are fantastic storytellers.

They exude confidence.

They keep their cool in high-stress situations and educate people on how to think and solve problems.

Sylvia Ann Hewlett, author of Executive Presence: The Missing Link Between Merit and Success, defines executive presence as to how one acts, speaks, and looks.

Executive Presence Tips – 4 Ways to Improve:

Now that we know executive presence includes qualities that command leadership, let’s take a look at some of those qualities to see how they might be improved:

1. Confidence & Body Language:

Confident men and women are seen as leaders and attract followers.

2. Appearance:

If you want to be perceived as a leader, you must look the part. This may sound superficial, but humans make quick judgments about each other based on appearance.

3. Composure:

Good leaders exhibit self-control, particularly when eyeballs are on them and the stakes are high.

4. Communication:

Communication encompasses your use of language—the tone, speed, and fluctuations of your voice—as well as your nonverbal cues.

There are eight warning indicators that you lack executive presence.

1. You rarely speak up or tend to shy away from asking questions.

2. You over communicate and end up dominating the conversation.

3. You struggle to moderate your emotions or struggle to adjust to others’ emotions.

4. You are prone to outbursts or tolerate workplace bullying.

5. You show up late or don’t take time to interact with and engage your audience.

6. You fidget, ramble, or otherwise display a disconnect between your verbal and nonverbal messages.

7. You behave unprofessionally, look unkempt, or smell bad.

8. You fail to set standards for integrity, ethics, and boundaries.

I have developed a framework with five dimensions to make the concept of executive presence more tangible and actionable.

Let’s take a closer look at these dimensions:

1) What You Believe in – Your Vision and Values

What you believe in, what you stand for, and where you desire to go is the core of your presence. Your values will not only help you make difficult decisions, but they also motivate and help lead the people who work with you. What do you intend to achieve through your career and personal life, and how does your vision guide you in the medium and long term?

2) How You Present Yourself – Your Body Language and Appearance

The way you present yourself is vital for making a good first impression. In addition, people around you will be constantly looking for visual indicators to establish your present emotional state or confidence level. You must strike the correct balance between competence and approach ability as a leader. Others will be less inclined to believe you if your body language does not match what you say.

3) How You Interact with Others – How You Build and Maintain Relationships

You must first reach out and connect with people if you want to encourage them to act. Making people feel valued requires abilities such as connecting, listening, expressing interest, expressing empathy, and expressing gratitude. This is also where trust comes into play: How do you present yourself as your true self?

4) Your Communication Style – How You Speak to Influence and Inspire Others

Effective communication is more than just exchanging information; it also necessitates the successful delivery, reception, and comprehension of the intended message. Your statements will not sound as convincing if your voice lacks strength and resonance, and people will become disengaged if your speech is boring and emotionless. Your capacity to assert your opinion while engaging and captivating your audience, evoking emotions, and inspiring people are critical to your executive presence.

5) Being Present Entails Being Resourceful, Creative, and Adaptable

Executives must have the ability to switch from acting on reactionary reflexes to making responsive and innovative decisions. Being present means being conscious of your own and others’ actions and involves being inquisitive, open, and flexible in the face of adversity. When we are worried, nervous, or in conflict, our capacity to be present is tested. Your embodiment of your confidence—your posture, movement, and breathing—all influences what you think, what you feel, and what you achieve. Most aspects of work, communication, and relationships are impacted by this embodiment. Increasing your awareness of your body and bodily patterns will subsequently improve your leadership presence, performance, and physical well-being.


Phidelia Johnson is a global Human Resources Practitioner with eighteen years of leadership success. With a focus on streamlining Human Resources administration, she’s well-equipped to find the right solution to a myriad of concerns. Her experience as a commercial business leader gives her a unique ability to advocate for both the employer and the employee.

In her down time, Phidelia is a master of her kitchen, creating wonderful dishes filled with passion and flavor. If she’s not cooking delicious food, she’s stretched out with a good book. She hopes to use her experience to help others, guide company leaders to best practices, and help build better professionals and stronger organizations.

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