Recognize Superior Executive Leadership Presence

Recognize Superior Executive Leadership Presence

Executive presence is always the biggest item on the agenda when Fortune 500’s ask me to come aboard and help them develop their leaders.

But when I ask them, “What do you mean by executive presence?” they aren’t sure. As the French say, there is a certain “je ne sais quoi” that charismatic and commanding leaders exude.

But what is it, exactly? If you don’t know you won’t know how to develop and nurture it, and it may be the key to your greater career success! So let’s isolate some of the critical components:

Personal Presence

  • Visual external brand – the first impression you make.
  • Your genuine, authentic brand that connects your professionalism to your core values and personal passions.
  • Mindset management for a contagious positive outlook.

Organizational Presence

  • Leading in ways that bring out the best performances and productivity of your team members and the team as a unit.
  • Networking and developing influential relationships across your organizational grid and industry.
  • A panoramic view that comes from experience across departments as you develop the breadth and depth of executive leadership vision.

Public Presence

  • The poise and grace to represent your organization, team, and industry under pressure, to the media and general public.
  • Alignment of personal and professional brands to project a coherently credible persona as the face and exemplary role model of your company.
  • Giving back to your industry and community through mentoring, teaching, and establishing a signature legacy.

HR executives and CEOs usually describe executive presence to me as “a kind of energy or a characteristic that I just cannot quite put my finger on!” They do, however, acknowledge that they know it when they see it.

More importantly for anybody seeking a promotion, they always know when they don’t see it – and that is why so many otherwise qualified leaders don’t make the grade and get passed over for prized promotions. Analyze the elements of executive presence that you and your favorite and most iconic leadership role models exhibit. Take an inventory of the traits outlined above and ask yourself which ones you need to work on and develop.

The most important executive decision you’ll ever make, after all, is whether or not to invest wisely and proactively in your own career!


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Sarah Hathorn is a leadership development mentor, executive presence coach, image and branding consultant, public speaker & author. She is the founding CEO of her own successful company, Illustra Consulting, and the creator of the proprietary Predictable Promotion™ System.

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Copyright © 2013, Sarah Hathorn, AICI CIP, CPBS

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