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Is executive presence something you are born with?

Some people are born with executive presence, but everyone can develop it. Learn how from an executive and career coach.

4 min read


Is executive presence something you are born with?

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Some people come into the world with a certain vibe, energy or charisma that allows them to show up in such a way that others are drawn to them. However, majority of the world aren’t born with executive presence. It’s something they must develop.

In my talk “Executive Presence: Four Ways to Convey Confidence and Command Respect as a Leader,” I discuss the ways you can build your ability to convey confidence and command respect, regardless of the level of leadership you currently hold. If you are interested in becoming known as someone with executive presence, read the four tips below.

1. Be composed

True leadership is most visible under stressful conditions. When tension rises or a crisis hits, you need to remain calm. Show your professionalism by keeping your poise while others panic.

How to practice this: Breathe evenly, stand tall, and limit your fidgeting. Listen, ask questions, and maintain a neutral tone to your voice. Show far more interest in finding a solution than determining fault. Even in the aftermath when things are calmer, focus on learning for next time over laying blame.

2. Be decisive

Learn to convey your ideas with certainty. When others are looking for leadership, they are looking for someone to step up and make a decision — by being willing to take charge and drive the team toward a solution. Be clear about what needs to be done and who should do it.

How to practice this: If you’re worried about being too authoritarian, remember the above. You’ve asked a lot of questions and listened to the many answers. You’ve collected feedback, now you’re going to make the final call. People are looking for collaboration, yes, but they’re also looking for someone to take that bold last step of making the decision. It can be you.

3. Be credible

No matter what level you’re at within the company, your reputation travels with you. If you’ve always been accurate and reliable, people will be drawn to the security your track record provides. Perception management is key to creating an accurate reputation.

How to practice this: Only make statements you are certain of. Be transparent when you don’t know something. Only make promises you can keep. It’s a bold thing to admit you have work to do in this area. Ask your manager or mentor to help you keep these commitments to yourself, and track your progress. Your reputation will thank you.

4. Be concise

Think about the people you are drawn to in everyday meetings at your organization. The person who speaks with clarity and purpose to their words probably is top of mind. Be clear and crisp.

How to practice this: You’re not being terse — you’re being efficient. And when you’re concise, you will seem surer of your position. People are drawn to that laser focus, so practice your ability to keep your messaging neat and tidy. Plan ahead with the key ideas you need to convey and speak to them with conviction.

Even if you don’t feel like you were born with executive presence, or you think you haven’t had the opportunity to flex your EP muscles, you can start in everyday situations with following my tips above. Start making even small adjustments, and you’ll see the perception of your leadership quality begin to change.

Natural leaders aren’t all born, and even the ones you perceive as natural may have had to work at it. Keep working; it’s worth it.


Want to grow your executive presence so you convey confidence and command respect? Joel Garfinkle provides executive coaching and also conducts webinar trainings to help leaders excel throughout the organization. He recently presented a customized series of webinars for an international company striving to develop their leaders to have more executive presence. Subscribe to his Fulfillment at Work Newsletter and receive the FREE e-book, “41 Proven Strategies to Get Promoted Now!” You can also view 75 of Garfinkle’s -minute inspirational video clips at his YouTube channel.

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