Do you have “executive presence”?

Executive presence is a term used to describe the aura of leadership surrounding effective decision-makers. Executives with presence exude self confidence, and are strategic, decisive and assertive, according to a study released by the Center for Work-Life Policy, a New York think tank.

In the current sluggish economy, companies struggling to recover are finding it more important than ever to find strong leadership with that executive presence. Large companies such as Intel Corp. and Morgan Stanley have established programs to educate their aspiring leaders on executive presence. Ambitious mid-level staffers at Intel are shown how to present effectively through a discussion of “constructive confrontation” and simulated meetings with an executive audience.

Tips to improve your executive presence:

  • Avoid gesturing excessively
  • Counter the urge to interrupt by counting to four before you reply
  • Stand or sit large to show that you take up space
  • Use qualifiers sparingly as they tend to imply a lack of confidence
  • Refrain from clasping your hands behind your back as this can be perceived as deceptive
  • Practice and perfect a firm handshake

Rosalind Hudnell, Intel’s chief diversity officer, created a “Command Presence” workshop for its rising female technical stars. She recalls that her survival in the corporate environment long “depended on my being able to command a room.” She believes executive presence also involves the ability to command other leaders.

To assess and bolster your executive presence, the experts recommend first identifying your strengths and weaknesses. James Citrin, a CEO recruiter for search firm Spencer Stuart, suggests keeping a journal based on workplace observations of executives with authoritative presence and imitate their behaviors that feel comfortable and natural to you.  Also ask for candid feedback from colleagues, who tend to notice flaws in your executive presence.

Source: Wall Street Journal Careers –