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A question I often hear from coaching clients is, “How do I get executive presence?” The question is tricky because “executive presence” isn’t easily defined. Sure, there’s widespread agreement that leaders need it and great leaders have it. But it’s not so simple to deconstruct the elements.
Your definition may be based on a leader you actually know, who has great presence. Someone who exudes confidence and energy, and who attracts other people like a magnet.
Sometimes the value of executive presence seems most obvious when it’s missing. I’m thinking of a brilliant corporate attorney I’ll call “Ed.” He repeatedly was passed over when spots opened up within the company’s management ranks. When I asked the COO whether Ed was likely to be promoted, she said, “No. He’ll always be valued as a talented technical lawyer, but we’re not going to move him up. Ed just doesn’t have executive presence.”
The COO didn’t try to define “executive presence,” but I knew what she meant. The attorney could write memos like a dream, but when asked a question he seemed hesitant. He’d mumble, then he’d shuffle down the hall. He just didn’t have “It.” He didn’t radiate that confidence, that dignity, that sense of control that others see as “executive presence.”
Do you sometimes worry that you don’t have enough of that “It” factor? Do you fear you’ll miss out on career opportunities, despite your great work, because you lack a powerful presence? [Read more…] about 7 strategies for building executive presence