Forbes Coaches Council Member

How Do You Know If You Have Executive Presence?

I’m not going to lie; I didn’t hate quarantine. But like many who are coming out of the cocoon and evolving toward our new sense of normalcy, I’m beginning to notice a few things I missed. For example, I recently attended a live event and I loved seeing many leaders I’ve worked with and feeling that raw, live energy – a.k.a. executive presence.

People with presence fill a room and command attention as if they simply have a right to be there. You know the type I’m talking about: they exude magnetic energy. It doesn’t matter whether they are extroverts or introverts, the essence of their presence is what others feel. And, in general, people trust other people who are self-confident, steer the ship through ambiguity, make tough calls, and maintain equal footing with other people at the table.

Executive presence is the collection of skills and traits that allows them to lead others and be successful. It is intuitive and can be difficult to pin down, but you know it when you see it or feel it.

Those with executive presence take control of difficult, unpredictable situations, make tough, unpopular decisions, and stand by them. And people with executive presence have the confidence to hold their own with other talented and strong-willed people.

Are you thinking this isn’t you? It can be. A survey on executive presence by the Center for Talent Innovation (CTI) overwhelmingly indicates that having executive presence helps people get promoted and stay ahead of the pack at work. In fact, survey results indicate that not having it can hold careers back. Nearly 100% of the leaders surveyed by CTI believe executive presence is not innate and can be learned.

But learning the skills is just the beginning. Executive presence is first learned, then earned through actions and behavior. Taking action is key. Executive presence is a learned skill demonstrated through behaviors such as self-awareness, confidence, assertiveness, decisiveness, managing through ambiguity, and staying on equal footing. But you have to practice and create that repetition.

Having a strong executive presence earns you more influence and credibility. More opportunities open up for career advancement. And who doesn’t want all that? There is nothing magical here. By deciding to practice these skills all the time, you can learn and earn a strong executive presence.

What’s one thing you can do today to practice your executive presence? Try making a tough call or speaking up in a meeting with a new idea.

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