How to Build Your Executive Presence: Tips and Strategies

Learn everything you need to know about building your executive presence to build trust and inspire confidence.

Excellent leaders are calm, confident, and steady. They remain cool and collected in times of uncertainty and serve as a beacon of light when times get tough. Each one of these characteristics is a trait of a leader who has an executive presence. What is an executive presence you ask? Simply put, an executive presence is a combination of personality and character traits that make a dynamic leader. 

If you’ve stumbled upon this article, it’s because you’re interested in developing your executive presence. To develop an executive presence, you’ll need to gain an in-depth understanding of the characteristics and traits that make up an executive presence. Although executive presence may seem like a natural ability, it’s more often an essential set of skills and behaviors that must be learned over time. In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about building your executive presence, including tips and strategies for success. 

What is executive presence? 

An executive presence is a combination of inherent qualities and learned behaviors that allow executives or leaders to command respect and lead with conviction. An executive presence refers not only to the set of qualities, behaviors, and characteristics that allows a person to command respect and inspire confidence, but also encompasses both verbal and nonverbal communication including body language, tone of voice, and interpersonal skills that an executive exudes. Professionals who possess an executive presence can project confidence, authority, and leadership in a professional setting. If you picture a charismatic leader who moves through their day with confidence and remains calm in the face of adversity, this is an executive presence. 

While some professionals may naturally possess an executive presence, others must work on developing these skills and characteristics over time. Those who have an executive presence tend to be confident and comfortable in their skin. They have a clear understanding of their strengths and weaknesses and can effectively communicate their vision to those around them. 

Key components of executive presence 

Executive presence is a critical component of being a successful leader. While some people are born with it, it’s important to note that possessing an executive presence can be mastered over time. Some key traits associated with an executive presence include:

  • Authenticity: 

Nothing is worse than an unauthentic leader. Authenticity will aid in garnering a following while ensuring you’re able to build positive rapport with those in your network. 

  • Professionalism: 

Professionalism is incredibly important for leaders with an executive presence. In order to be an effective leader, your reputation must surpass you. Remaining cordial and respectful will ensure others think fondly of you. 

  • Credibility: 

Credibility is a key characteristic among leaders with an executive presence and refers to the method in which you communicate. If you’re credible, you are truthful, and reliable. People listen and follow a leader with executive presence because they believe they are qualified to present the information. 

  • Charisma: 

Leaders with an executive presence and confident and charismatic. They move forward with conviction and encourage those around them to do the same. This includes exerting boldness, and composure. 

  • Persuasiveness: 

Leaders with an executive presence are persuasive and convincing. They have the ability to lead with conviction and are able to successfully get others to buy into their vision. 

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Why executive presence matters in business 

Executive presence matters in business for several reasons, but mainly because it commands respect. If a leader exudes confidence, they are more apt to receive the respect and buy-in needed to lead effectively. By projecting confidence and authority, leaders can motivate and inspire their teams to work cohesively toward achieving common goals. Professionals with executive presence are also able to establish themselves as credible and trustworthy leaders, which becomes incredibly important in situations where they need others to follow their lead.

How to develop executive presence

1Articulate your vision well 

A leader with executive presence can clearly articulate their vision. When leaders have a well-defined vision and can clearly articulate it to their peers, they can provide a sense of purpose and direction. When employees feel connected to a mission or vision, they are more inclined to contribute to the organization’s success. This connection also boosts morale and helps reduce turnover. 

2Have confidence 

Having confidence is one of the most important characteristics of leaders. Not only does confidence inspire trust, motivate employees, foster resilience, and build credibility, but it is also a crucial component of decision-making. You need to be confident in your ability to lead with conviction and stand by your decisions if you want your peers to trust in your leadership. 

3Be an active listener 

Practicing active listening is extremely important for several reasons. As a leader, being an active listener can help build trust, strengthen relationships, and cultivate effective communication processes that will aid in building rapport. If you don’t practice active listening, you’ll have a difficult time building rapport with your peers or employees.  

4Cultivate a network of relationships

Having an executive presence as a leader isn’t just about hitting targets and achieving goals, it’s also about relationship building. Surrounding yourself with a quality group of networking connections is important for many reasons. Having people in your corner provides you with access to new perspectives, resources, and opportunities, provides encouragement and guidance in times of uncertainty, and helps with personal and professional growth and development. If you want to have a strong executive presence, you’ll need to surround yourself with a solid support system. 

5Control your emotions under pressure 

If you wish to improve your executive presence, you need to be cool under pressure. Not only are leaders with an executive presence capable of remaining calm under pressure, but they are also able to soothe the emotions of others in times of uncertainty. As a leader with an executive presence, you should be capable of leading your peers through turbulent times with clarity and conviction. You must serve as a pillar of strength and be ready to provide reassurance and guidance when necessary.

6Manage time with clarity and direction

Leaders with an executive presence are incredibly organized. To develop an executive presence, you’ll need to hone in on your time management skills and learn to prioritize accordingly. This means carving out time to plan for both short- and long-term goals. 

7Know your leadership style

Understanding your leadership style is a crucial step in developing an executive presence, largely because it helps you identify your strengths and weaknesses so you can pivot accordingly.  Understanding your leadership style will help you develop self-awareness, build trust, and improve communication so you can begin to step into your executive presence. 

5 ways to improve your executive presence

1Accept change 

Leaders with an executive presence welcome change with open arms. Instead of quivering in the face of adversity, those with an executive presence step up and use it as a learning opportunity. If you want to lead with conviction, you must be willing to welcome change and use it as an opportunity to pivot. 

2Run delightful meetings

A leader who has an executive presence is good at what they do. This means starting with the basics and improving every interaction you have with your teammates, starting with meetings. Fellow is an all-encompassing meeting management platform that will help you drive engagement and productivity by building better meeting habits before, during, and after every meeting. Coined as your one-stop shop for meeting agendas, action items, and feedback, Fellow will empower you to build better meeting habits and run more effective meetings with collaborative meeting agendas, real-time note-taking, and time-saving templates.

3Set short- and long-term goals 

While it’s important to plan for the short term, it’s equally important to keep long-term goals in mind. Leaders with an executive presence will be able to plan for the future without losing sight of the day-to-day. They will keep track of goals and objectives and ensure everyone within the organization is completing short-term objectives that lead to long-term goals. 

Pro tip: Stay on top of your team’s goals by clearly recording, defining, and tracking the progress of your OKRs in Fellow’s Objectives tool. The best part? You can quickly review those objectives during your team meetings!

4Explain the why

It can be incredibly difficult to lead a group of people that don’t have a North Star. To motivate and inspire, you must clearly explain and define the why. If you expect those in your organization to buy into your mission and work for you, you need to be passionate about the company’s mission and values and lead by example. 

5Have a mentor 

It’s normal to not have all the answers. Luckily, there are always people that are willing to lend a helping hand. If you’re eager to refine your skills, consider reaching out to a mentor who knows what it’s like to walk into your shoes. Connecting with a leader you admire may be exactly what you need to improve your executive presence. 

Pro tip: Use this free template as a guide to fuel learning and growth for your next mentorship meeting!

Are you ready to inspire confidence? 

Your executive presence (or lack thereof) can play a major role in your career and the company’s success. As a leader, it’s your responsibility to cultivate the skills and behaviors necessary to develop this persona. Considering the tips and tricks we’ve outlined will ensure you have the knowledge you need to inspire confidence in your peers moving forward.

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About the author

Hannah Ross

Hannah is an experienced content creator and digital strategist with a demonstrated history of working with startups, small business owners, and large organizations. Presently, Hannah serves as the Founder at Flamingo Social where she strives to create impactful organic content marketing strategies that help founders tell inspiring stories.

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