Boost Your ‘Executive Presence’—And Shift Your Career Into High Gear

executive presence

If you’re feeling stagnant in your career and often passed over for promotions, you could be lacking what’s known as “executive presence.” In fact, when 400 CEOs were asked how they chose their next level leaders, 89 percent said they looked for this one critical trait.

But what is executive presence? Having it means more than sitting behind a mahogany desk surrounded by kinetic office toys. SHAMBAUGH Leadership defines executive presence as: “The combination of behaviors and attitudes that enable you to clearly and confidently express your ideas and influence others.”

And how do you get it? Corporate trainer Joel Garfinkle asserts that executive presence is crucial for professional success, but that it is a learnable trait.

3 Pillars to Success: Gravitas, Communication & Appearance

If executive presence is the secret ingredient to moving up the corporate ladder, there must be a secret to boosting it. According to Talent Innovation, “Leadership roles are given to those who look and act the part.” In their Key Findings report, 67 percent of the 268 senior executives surveyed choose “gravitas” as the core characteristic of executive presence. The six behaviors that characterize gravitas are:

  • Exuding confidence and “grace under fire”
  • Acting decisively and “showing teeth”
  • Showing integrity and “speaking truth to power”
  • Demonstrating emotional intelligence
  • Burnishing reputation
  • Projecting vision

Communication ranked as another pillar, with the key components being:

  • Great speaking skills
  • The ability to command a room
  • The ability to read an audience

The final pillar is appearance—including good grooming and physical attractiveness—which Talent Innovation refers to as “a filter through which your communication skills and gravitas become more apparent.”

4 Don’t-Do-This Behaviors that mar your Executive Presence

There are, unfortunately, things you could be doing right now that are undermining your EP. Here are four sure signs you’re giving off the wrong impression:

  • Rambling & unorganized communication—rather than language that’s concise, succinct, and to the point.
  • Lack of conviction, confidence, and command of situations.
  • Acting quiet and reserved—and failing to take initiative.
  • Not taking full responsibility and ownership for projects and outcomes.

On the bright side, you can acquire the necessary tools to develop your executive presence and become the elite performer who influences outcomes, contributes to major decisions, and drives change for the betterment of your company.

If you’re in a leadership role—or craving one—you must find out how your executive presence rates. Garfinkle’s session provides a self-assessment questionnaire so you can evaluate your own presence and determine your strengths and weaknesses.