What is Executive Presence? - Definition & Examples

Instructor: Brianna Whiting

Brianna has a masters of education in educational leadership, a DBA business management, and a BS in animal science.

In this lesson, we will explore executive presence. We will first define the term and, through examples, we'll learn what characteristics a leader with executive presence possesses. You can test your knowledge with a quiz at the end.

A First Look at Executive Presence

Have you ever had a boss who walks into the room and bring with an air of leadership. When he or she starts talking, you know immediately that this person is in charge, but what is it that makes you feel this? Is it something in this boss's stride or way of speaking? Being a sound leader takes more than simply knowing how to do your job - you must also be able to command a presence of authority and leadership. In this lesson, we will learn all about executive presence and the characteristics associated with it.

Defining Executive Presence

As you may have expected, executive presence can be difficult to detect and precisely define. However, many industry professionals say that it's the ability to give off a general sense of poise, confidence, decisiveness and dignity. The term also encompasses the characteristics of a sound leader. For instance, those with executive presence work well under pressure and are able to communicate clearly and efficiently, and they're able to observe an environment or situation and know exactly how to handle it. In general, executive presence is a persona that lets everyone around the person know that he or she is in charge, confident and capable of leading others.

Characteristics of Executive Presence

Now that we know that executive presence incorporates characteristics that command leadership, let's look at some of those qualities:

1. Strong communication skills: A leader with executive presence has excellent communication skills. This goes beyond being able to speak or write proficiently - the leader with executive presence communicates clearly and with confidence, using energy, volume and authority. For example, say that Tom is a boss who is generally shy and answers many questions with 'I don't know.' He may be an example of a leader without executive presence. However, if Tom walks into the room, immediately starts conversing with employees and begins assigning responsibilities, he may have executive presence.

2. Positive body language: The mannerisms and physical presentation of a leader tell a lot about his or her presence. Those with executive presence generally stand tall and look you in the eye. They're well dressed and groomed, and these leaders may meet you with a handshake and greeting. So, when Tom wears shorts and a dirty T-shirt to the office and walks with a hunched back, he is not demonstrating executive presence. If Tom walks into the room wearing a suit and tie, and he stands tall and confident, he would be said to have executive presence.

3. Relationship skills: In order to have executive presence, a leader needs to be able to build strong connections with others. This means understanding what type of communication works best for certain individuals, as well as being able to recognize how others are feeling and connect with them emotionally. Let's turn back to Tom. Say he's rude and laughs at one of his employees because he is crying. In this case, he did not demonstrate executive presence. A good demonstration of executive presence would be to walk over to the employee who is crying and ask what's wrong.

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