Do You Have Executive Presence?

Vicky had just finished giving her project update at the department meeting. She felt relieved that it finally was over.  She had been so busy, she hadn’t had time to prepare as much as she would have liked.  So, she was nervous.

Vicky’s boss, Juanita, wanted to speak with her after the meeting. “Vicky,” she said, “you know the details of your project well, but, it doesn’t come across that way during your reports at the department meeting. You need to be able to confidently communicate that you’re managing this project well and moving it forward. And, don’t be defensive when the group asks you questions. They’re simply trying to get information. Communicating clearly and confidently are important to your career.  People judge your potential with each interaction with you.”

When someone tells you, “you need to work on your executive presence,” what does that mean? And, where do you start?  Because executive presence is more than a single dimension, you likely already possess some of the qualities. But, you need to be aware of your gaps so you can close them.

How do you get objective feedback you need to make meaningful and noticeable enhancements?

Assess Your Executive Presence

The first thing you should do is get a better understanding of where you are on the four dimensions of executive presence (business intelligence, business impact, relationships, and reputation), identifying what you’re missing and, therefore, where you need to give more attention. 

A deeper self-assessment of your executive presence will give you a more detailed understanding of the variables you already have a handle on and areas that need more attention. Take the full assessment to see where you stand.  You can also ask others to complete the assessment whom you trust to give you objective feedback.

 Review Your Performance Appraisals

A third resource for assessing your executive presence are your performance appraisals.  What have been the trends in the feedback you’ve been given as it relates to these four dimensions of executive presence?  The words “executive presence” may not be actually referenced in your review. But, remember, it’s the combination of factors that comprise your executive presence.  So, look for related comments.  In addition to reviewing your performance appraisals, have a discussion with your boss to more fully understand their perspectives. 

Ask the Opinion of Others

A fourth resource for assessing your executive presence is to ask other people what their impressions are. Ask your personal board of directors or a mentor for their personal opinions. Coworkers that you have a trusted relationship with also are a good source for feedback. What are the formal and informal, or ‘water cooler’, perceptions of your executive presence? Ask for real time feedback so that you can capture thoughts while fresh on people’s minds. Inquire about the impressions of both the four dimensions of executive presence (business intelligence, business impact, relationships, and reputation), and, in general, your overall executive presence.  Make sure you remain objective and open to feedback. People won’t be honest with you if you are defensive or unwilling to receive what is shared.

Take all the insights from your sources of feedback and identify the trends.  What are the common themes that emerge?  Are there certain situations where you tend to do better or not as well? Review the insights with your mentor or personal board of directors. They can provide objective perspectives in drawing conclusions, and can help you understand the expectations for executive presence within your organization. This will take you into planning your actions as a result of what you learn.

To troubleshoot your executive presence and find out where you might need to improve, click here to download my guide to know where you are going wrong and increasing your executive presence.


She’s a woman on a mission, prepped and ready to help you create resilient leaders and a workplace that is poised to succeed. Having weathered her fair share of corporate and career crises of all sizes, Vivian Blade MBA, MBB, PMP, is a global leadership expert and thought leader who equips leaders with the resilience that inspires teams to recover quickly in the face of ongoing disruption and thrive in spite of insurmountable odds.

Vivian empowers leaders and organizations as a frequent keynote speaker for association conferences and in delivering transformative leadership development programs, executive coaching and consulting for corporations.

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