What is Executive Presence?
As a leader, you are the person people look to for guidance and
direction, and you need to step up and be that person. How you do this
is over to you.
Your executive presence
encompasses both the role or position you hold, and how you enact this
role. Both are central to your identity.
Your executive presence reflects how you convey your identity to those around you.
Knowing who you are and how you impact people are significant elements of your Presence.
How do those around you
experience you? Would they experience you as into the detail, micro
managing, or that their interactions with you are considered and
Do people experience you as
inspirational or autocratic? Do those around you experience you as
keenly interested in them and how they go about what they are doing or
do they experience a lack of care, more that you
are only interested in achieving outcomes?
Leaders who are unaware of
their capabilities, or distracted or are silent on important matters
tend to be perceived as invisible. These people are the faceless men and
women in our organisations, and they tend to
have little executive presence. They may have considerable political
nous, but little presence in that those around them don't know what they
stand for or what or who is important to them.
Executive presence reflects your capacity to balance your technical and
professional competence, and includes at least five elements: your
relationships, authenticity, credibility, identity and reputation
(RACIR). Now these elements are invisible and yet each
one is influential in creating how you are perceived by others.
Executive presence includes
your ability to both know and accept your capacities alongside your
vision for creating a positive future by being in relationship with both
the people and situations you are currently
One effect of Executive
Presence is to create mutual (two-way) relationships. You know when you
are with someone with executive presence. You want to hear from them,
and you want to find out more from them.
How do you develop Executive Presence? Or is it something leaders are born with?
Increasing your executive
presence relates to the personal aspects of your professional identity. A
starting point is being aware of how you impact others and knowing
whether this creates the presence relevant to
your current position and what you are wanting to achieve.
Executive Presence requires
leaders to go beyond feedback and really discover how they impact
others. They learn to see themselves through the eyes of others. This
assists in two
Firstly, as leaders they develop a greater understanding and
appreciation of the needs
of those around them, and secondly they see and accept how they are
perceived. This in itself assists leaders modify their responses.
Leaders learn to tailor their message and approach to suit the
stakeholders, the current situation and the outcome they are
As leaders develop their presence, what are some of the goals they set themselves? Here are a few from a recent programme:
- Make positive first impressions without needing content
- Swiftly make myself known in groups.
- To have strong mutual relationships with peers and staff, across the public sector and beyond
- Taking risks when the stakes are high reputationally, when someone pushes back on my view, I chose my response
- Be approachable, influential and easy to work with
first impressions people I haven't met previously are left with is that
I come across as attentive, open, authoritative and trustworthy
How do these sound to you?
To me, these are inspirational goals. Mostly those who set these goals
would have no idea how they would achieve them, but they do have a
vision and a sense of who they want to be as leaders.
In the Executive Presence
programme we identify how you would know if you were successful in
achieving your goals. Here are some success measures leaders have
- I am sought after to lead cross government projects.
- I hold my ground and my relationships when peers push back and we progress the business at hand together
- Peers, bosses and stakeholders seek me out for my views
If you are interested in developing your Executive Presence, contact
Diana and participate in one of my programmes.