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Executive Presence

Executive Presence

Executive Presence are the buzz words for recent trends in career development circles.Recently, on being invited by a group of high-level executives to speak on this topic, it became apparent that few, if any, are born with this enviable trait, which then begged the question of, can it be studied and can one graduate from the School of Executive Presence?  The answer is “yes” and “no!”  Like great athletes, one must first have a natural ability followed by extensive study, practice and hands-on experience.


Nobody is born with Executive Presence.

Nobody is born with Executive Presence and successful people have learned it through a combination of mistakes, experience, vision and sheer grit. “Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will” Mahatma Gandhi.

Royalty and others in positions of power are groomed from an early age.

Royalty and others in positions of power are taught, beginning in early childhood, the rudiments and protocol of deportment in every situation and therefore, have an immense advantage. By the time, they are ready to rule, they have already been groomed and need only to step into their positions with grace and knowledge…at least that is the hope! Note, image is everything and when we consider the concept of “dress for success,” it is a derivative of Queen Elizabeth I’s penchant for designing gowns with enormous girth that would hardly fit through doorways, hence the need for castles to make a grand entrance, with the desired affect of using space to impart an image of power and majesty…wonder what she would consider “dress-down” Fridays!

Religious and philosophical backgrounds play an important role.

Many famous, accomplished figures in history and politics have been influenced by religious and philosophical ideals in their childhood and hence, bring a sense of wisdom and inherent charisma to their rise in notoriety. Consider Mahatma Ghandi and Dr. Martin Luther King. Other leaders with religious influences include Chancellor Angela Merkel and Prime Minister Theresa May. Their inner beliefs propel them in their self-belief that they have the capability to attain and maintain positions of such high authority. On researching their body language, it is evident that they have observed and learned the stance of power at meetings and during presentations.

In summary, nobody is born with Executive Presence, it is a combination or a result of all of the foregoing.

How does one acquire Executive Presence?

Is it possible to learn or acquire Executive Presence? Yes, first one has to recognize it in others and carefully consider what traits they have that impart Executive Presence. Having identified these traits (assuming one understands how valuable these traits are to his/her career advancement), then research and learning, beginning with polished corporate etiquette, impeccable communication skills, excellent memory, advanced emotional intelligence, diplomatic leadership, powerful presentation skills, media management and finally, cross-cultural and international protocol, are the foundation blocks to be built upon and perfected.

For inspiration, read biographies of successful leaders and understand that struggle is honing you for future possibilities! Be a student of history and you will see the machinations of power and where it was used for good and for the not so good!

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