Executive Presence: The “Wow” Factor that Makes Leaders Stand
By Suzanne Bates
We’ve all witnessed that moment when
someone walks into a room at a business or social event and attracts
intense, positive attention. The air shifts. Heads turn. People
gravitate toward them in the conversation circle. In short, they
have a “wow” factor.
The wow factor is often called “executive
presence.” It is easy to see and yet hard to define. But it’s
important to develop because when you have it, people want to
promote you, do business with you, give you better assignments, and
recommend you to others.
Is executive presence in your DNA or can
you learn it? It turns out you’re not born with this skill. And
it’s not as much of a mystery as you might think. It is a blending
of competencies and skills that when combined, send all the right
Executive presence creates a strong personal brand. The brand is the
message or impression that comes to mind when people see you, hear
of you or think about you. In business,
you need to build your brand with everyone – your colleagues, boss,
direct reports, clients or customers; because it’s impossible to
meet and know everyone well. Brand gives you word of mouth that is
a tremendous advantage.
Executive presence isn’t just fluff, and it isn’t about first
impressions; it is a thought or feeling about you that develops over
time based on other people’s experiences with you. When you do it
right, you build trust, which creates word of mouth or buzz that
opens up business opportunities and creates professional and
financial success. So how do you start
developing a powerful executive presence and create your own
personal brand? There are seven elements of executive presence:
The most important aspect of executive presence is the ability to
communicate substance. You are an expert in your field, and you
need to share that expertise in a powerful way. In order to do this
you need to develop a high level of skill in speaking, presenting,
writing and communicating your ideas. You may be one of the most
knowledgeable people in your industry, however, if you cannot convey
your business and technical skill, you won’t get the recognition you
#2. Personal Style:
We can hope that it doesn’t matter, but the way we dress speaks
volumes about us as professionals. Your business attire should make
you feel confident and powerful every single day. Think about how
you feel when you put on your best suit. You should walk in the
door feeling like that every day. Polished personal style isn’t
just about the clothing you wear; it’s about how you feel in those
#3. Physical Presence:
Your physical presence is more than your body language. It’s your
confidence, spirit, and energy. People are reading your body
language 24/7. Learn to sit, stand, walk, move and gesture
purposefully. It says so much about your professionalism.
#4. Vocal Skill:
Many people know us only by the sound of our voice. Yet the voice
is one of the most overlooked aspects of executive presence.
Knowing how to use your voice effectively is one of the secrets to
standing out in the crowd. Your voice should be conversational and
clear. It should demonstrate your confidence, enthusiasm, passion
and intelligence. Add interest to your voice by using inflection,
varying the pace, emphasizing important words or phrases and pausing
when you make an important point.
It sounds like a no-brainer, but business etiquette is essential to
professional presence. Etiquette is easy if you remember a few
things; treat others as you want to be treated, put their comfort
ahead of your own, and be gracious and grateful to everyone you
meet. People may not comment on your manners but they do notice and
assume you fit in perfectly.
Listening is a leadership skill. Those who listen stand out
and are remembered. Listening includes being accessible,
encouraging people to express themselves, listening with
mindfulness, not speaking too much, and using verbal and non verbal
language to convey genuine interest in the other person. If you
don’t know whether you’re a good listener, ask someone who will tell
you the truth.
#7. Work Space:
Your work space is an extension of you and can be a tip off to
others about how you really conduct business. Many people with a
messy office believe it shouldn’t matter. As much as we wish no one
will see or notice, that’s not true. A CEO once said he decides
whether to promote his people based on “clutter.” Clear it out,
find a home for everything, keep electronic files of most documents,
and then make it an attractive space for you and others. This is
not only important to your image; it will also help you feel better
about your hours at work.
Now, where do you start? Choose one of
the elements and get started. Ask a trusted advisor to help. Soon,
people will be gravitating to your circle when you walk into the
Read other articles and learn more
about Suzanne Bates.
[This article is available at no-cost, on a non-exclusive basis.
Contact PR/PR at 407-299-6128 for details and