Monday, June 24, 2024

Executive Presence Will Give You the Executive Edge

Executive Presence Will Give You the Executive Edge

My observation of successful entrepreneurs and business leaders is that they have outstanding interpersonal skills. Sure, technical skills, leadership and managing teams well are vital. However, the “edge” is that you need to be effective at building connections and relationships with your public, both from a business and personal point of view – essentially personal public relations.

In my workshops I often ask participants what they think executive or leadership presence is and answers have included:

Living your brand authentically and consciously communicating that.

Awareness of how you conduct yourself in the workplace. What do you want to be known for?

Demonstrate that and do it, not just say it.

Having confident and credible communication.

People skills – being able to work together and understand that everyone has their own style.

Or as I describe it, the ABC’s … appearance, behaviour and communication. This is not news. It’s a subject that has been around a long time.

I remember “back in the day” learning about these traits at what was called modelling and deportment schools. I saved up my fruit shop Saturday morning job wages to go to one of those courses as I thought it was important to my future. It still is. Being aware of the softer intangible skills of standing out – no matter at what age.

Increasingly these days, it is also about the D – your digital footprint. Both social media and online video.

What executive presence isn’t, is being an extrovert. Some people have called it charisma, the “it” factor or to be magnetic. Most of my understanding of leadership presence is awareness of the interpersonal skills. Whether you are an extrovert or an introvert, it’s harnessing the characteristics of confident, credible communication, understanding your personal brand and strengths, demonstrating that and awareness of how you act, speak and look.

Let’s take a brief look at the ABCD of executive presence.


Dress codes have changed and a formal, business look is not now necessary, but it is still important to consider that your clothes, appearance and grooming really are the external image of your brand. What brand image are you projecting?

Some organisations suggest to staff, “Dress for your day”, as the current corporate wardrobe policy. Which is fine – it you are aware of what is the appropriate look for you and “your day”. Even if a dress policy doesn’t exist, leaders should look like leaders and set an example.

What signal do you send with your overall appearance and style? Is it friendly, casual, professional, creative, high fashion, a little quirky, or perhaps boring or worse – sloppy?

Appearance is also about that extra polish; having well-groomed hair or facial hair and choosing accessories that highlight your outfit rather than take away from it. We know that people shouldn’t judge us by our outward appearance – but they do.


It is worth being aware of your reputation and acting like a leader. Some “world leaders” seem to get away with acting and saying inappropriate things, but for most of us conducting yourself with dignity and displaying confidence in the way you behave, speaks volumes about your personal brand.

You may have attributes you are unaware of that are perceived negatively by others. For instance, shyness coming across as aloofness or annoying speech habits, lack of good manners, punctuality. These are the things about you that speak loud and clear to others.

Leadership presence can be obtained by practising self-awareness and some self-analysis on your personality traits and professional behaviour.

Is your body language and non-verbal communication such as eye contact and handshake supporting you or subtracting from your essence? How do you develop relationships with your clients or conduct yourself in social situations or networking events? Are you confident and conversational?


As a former PR professional, I was taught that communication is always two-way. Not just broadcasting your opinions and thoughts but tuning in and listening to others. You have to understand what your customers and clients want and need before you can give it to them.

Even when networking or in just day to day conversation, listen to others, ask questions and tune in to who they are and their interests. Others will find you fascinating if you show how fascinated you are with what they have to say.

Communication is also about being an effective presenter and developing excellent speaking skills. Now communication through online and remote channels is being practiced worldwide. Have you learnt the intricacies of being an effective virtual presenter?


Your digital footprint and social media profile are often the first impression a person makes about you. It is built online and the best way to check that online presence is to google yourself. Did you just do that? What comes up?

Once a first impression is formed it can be hard to change.

When people meet you for the first time it might not be the same as what they think from viewing you online. They will most likely believe the online version. For better or for worse.

Some people paint an unrealistic image of who they really are with carefully crafted social personas. Others don’t give it much thought and perhaps an unwanted presence is displayed. If you think about it, when someone googles you, they are evaluating you.

You need to align your real world brand with virtual brand. The first thing you need to consider – is what is it about you or your personal or business brand that you want to say? Your online presence reflects who you are; your values, beliefs, ambitions and the business culture you are in.

No doubt you have done some online research about another person before a meeting or going for a job interview. Of course, they are doing the same to you. They may want to hire you for a project, join their board, be on a panel session, or give a speech. They will look at your LinkedIn page, check out your website if you have one and look to see what kind of posts you make on Facebook.

Not everyone has a strong digital presence but it is good to be aware of what is out there. It is important to check what others are posting about you, check photos and tags and always approve posts before they appear randomly online.

Anything you post on social media reflects your brand image. You want to share your personality but the positive side of you. In business everything you do and communicate creates impressions.

The Secret to Your Personal Brand Revolution – eBook, reveals more on executive and brand presence .  Get Your Free eBook Now!

Sue Currie is an image entrepreneur who guides and empowers business leaders and entrepreneurs to have “Spotlight Confidence”. She is passionate about helping professionals elevate their personal and professional brand through her speaking, coaching and training programs on Self Brand, Style and Speaking Skills, providing a multi-faceted approach to gain high transformation for her clients.

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