15 Most Important Characteristics of Executive Presence

Emotional intelligence is such a vital component in business and personal interactions. I am often asked, “What is the most popular topic clients request when it comes to leadership development?”
My answer? “Presence” — specifically Executive Presence. I have found that Executive Presence is that “special sauce” which separates good leaders who “do well” from outstanding leaders who catapult to the top of their organizations.

15 Most Important Characteristics of Executive Presence

Let’s face it – most leaders have good enough technical skills,business acumen, and all-around smarts to achieve a certain level ofsuccess in an organization. But, a powerful sense of “presence” – thatje ne sais quoi – is often what’s missing, and that is what can holdback many leaders from advancing in their careers.

What is Presence? And, more importantly, how do you get it? The way I like to define Executive Presence is a certain set of attitudes, behaviors, and skills which – when combined – send the right signals, influence others, and ultimately drive results. When you develop powerful Executive Presence, you automaticallystrengthen your Leadership Personal Brand, i.e., the way othersperceive, think, and feel about YOU™, which is a critically important foundation of success.

“That sounds appealing,” many clients have told me, “but canExecutive Presence really be developed?” Absolutely. Let’s face it: Noone is born with Presence – it is a learned behavior with multiple facets which is strengthened through intention and practice.

What is the essential first step in developing your own Presence?It’s getting clear on how well you currently fare with the variousaspects that make up Presence.

With that in mind, I’m sharing with you below a self-assessment thathighlights some fundamental facets of Executive Presence. This will help you review the state of your own Presence, both in your personal andprofessional life.

In addition, further below in this newsletter, you will find a linkto more complimentary tips through dozens of articles I have written onExecutive Presence and leadership branding.
Assess the State of Your Own Executive Presence
Take this quiz, and see how well you are doing on these key facets of Executive Presence, which can in turn impact your Leadership PersonalBrand.
On a scale of 1 to 6, with 1 the lowest score and 6 the highestscore, rate yourself in the following areas. (Be honest with yourself!)

  1. I have a strong positive influence on my family, my team, coworkers, colleagues, and superiors.
  2. I manage my emotional reactions well at home and in the workplace, and I stay calm under pressure.
  3. When I need to let someone know I’m unhappy with a situation, Ispeak to them calmly and assertively. I don’t express my feelings in apassive-aggressive way.
  4. I am resilient when pressure builds at home or on the job.
  5. I speak up in very important meetings and when in the presence of more senior leaders.
  6. When I am attending a gathering or a meeting, I am able to focus100% on the topic at hand, without distracting thoughts or checking myphone for messages.
  7. Based on the way others relate to me, I believe I exhibit charisma both at home and on the job.
  8. I have inner self-confidence, and I believe in myself.
  9. When team members and others push back on my decisions, I manage the situation in a professional, balanced way so that the best choice ismade without harming workplace relationships.
  10. I’m capable of thinking on my feet when under pressure.
  11. When conflict arises, I manage it steadily, without damaging personal or professional relationships.
  12. I am aware of and effectively manage my Leadership Personal Brand,not just within my organization, but also externally within my industry.
  13. I know how to maneuver office politics, as necessary.
  14. When I’m called upon to make a presentation, I do so powerfully, engaging my audience from beginning to end.
  15. I use storytelling as a means of engaging others when I communicate

Obviously, if you rated yourself a “5” or a “6” on all 15 of theseExecutive Presence attitudes, behaviors, and skills, good for you – well done! Based on my experience though, that would be rare. It’s notunusual to have room for improvement on a fair number of theseattributes.
So, take a moment to review your self-scores, and write down two orthree aspects of Presence that are the most important for you and whichyou would like to improve.

Action Steps
Sit back, and assess your scores. Where did you do well? In which areas did you score lower?On the statements where you scored well, ask yourself what allows you to do that. What makes you think those are areas where you exhibitstrengths?

Now, look at the statements where you ranked lower and choose aspecific aspect of Executive Presence that you would like to strengthenthe most.

  1. Find a role model (boss, peer, colleague) whom you think embodiesthat particular aspect, and seek their advice on how they have managedto succeed in that area. You might even ask them if you can observe them in action and take note of what they do to really excel at thatparticular Executive Presence characteristic.
  2. Lastly, consider having an “accountability buddy,” someone to helpsupport you in developing your presence, and share your plan with them.Ask if that person would be open to following up with you on your planas well as giving you honest feedback as you progress.

Are YOU interested in the topic of Executive Presence?
I regularly present keynotes and offer interactive, live-learningprograms on the topic of Executive Presence to audiences around theworld. These programs, which are popular with corporate clients, havebeen proven to drive lasting mindset and behavior changes in leaders. Keep reading this blog.

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