What is executive presence and how do you get it?

I’m putting together materials for clients on executive presence and making good impressions. Would this opener set the right tone?

Executive presence is the ability to inspire confidence, so your team wants to follow you and leadership wants to promote you.

2 replies
  1. Penelope Trunk
    Penelope Trunk says:

    Making a good first impression is something that pretty much everyone needs, no matter what their situation. So, it’s not so much executive presence as knowledge about presence that everyone needs to know, for example a range of skills that help people advance through corporate ranks — like good communication and good public speaking skills.

    There are some traits that you don’t need to know about an entry-level position, but you need to be good at in a management position, like the ability to delegate and inspire trust.

    People think of executive presence as the traits someone needs, in order to move from middle management into senior management. So, for example, executive presence is being able to maintain composure, optimism, and confidence when you make a terrible decision that hurts people you work with. Executive presence is a refusal to think about practical matters of execution so you can create a strategy to lead the company in the future.

    The reason we talk so much about executive leadership is that most people can’t make the switch from middle management to senior management because they don’t like the required shift in thinking.

    The Harvard Business Review writes a lot about this topic because it’s expensive for companies to promote people who can make the shift to senior management. High-end recruiting firms also publish research about executive presence to show potential clients that the firm is good at identifying candidates who can develop executive presence.

    I hope this is helpful.


  2. Eve
    Eve says:

    I recommend reading ‘The Gervais Principle’ by Venkatesh Rao for another interesting take on this subject.

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