Deciphering Your Performance Review: What is Executive Presence?
Part of our series on Deciphering Your Performance Review, executive coach Lauren Meagher does a deep dive on what "executive presence" really means.
October 10, 2019
Executive Presence

Executive presence refers to the ability to exude confidence, persuasively present ideas, and utilize knowledge across several domains to resolve conflicts and make decisions. Executive presence usually encompasses certain tasks, traits, and outlooks, although the specifics may differ across companies and individuals. If your manager has asked you to develop your executive presence, you should refer to the guide below and also the article “Deciphering Your Performance Review: How to Translate Vague Feedback Into Action.”

Executive presence tasks

Persuasion: You hold an informed point of view, can effectively explain it, and can convince others that your viewpoint is beneficial in a diplomatic manner.

Relevant Nodabl Competencies: Persuasion, Effective Explanation, Public Speaking / Presenting, Negotiation

Knowledge attainment: You seek to understand a situation or problem not only by leveraging your own expertise, but also by seeking and utilizing data and information from other departments, functions, or industries.

Relevant Nodabl Competencies: Domain Knowledge, Curiosity, Initiative / Self-Drive

Resolve conflict: Conflict and debate are at the heart of robust decision making. You must make this conflict productive by helping others clarify what is at stake for themselves and the company, and move people forward to a solution.

Relevant Nodabl Competencies: Conflict Resolution, Feedback and Coaching, Effective Listening

Listen effectively: You enter a conversation with an openness to new thoughts and a genuine readiness to process new information.

Relevant Nodabl Competencies: Effective Listening, Receiving Feedback

Explain effectively: Effective explanations center around understanding what the listener needs in order to process your information. This involves what you communicate, your communication style, and the timing.

Relevant Nodabl Competencies: Effective Explanation, Public Speaking / Presenting, Leading Meetings, Writing, Persuasion, Feedback and Coaching

Executive presence traits

Confidence: You are assured that you have knowledge and talents that should be shared.

Nodabl Self-Assessments help you track your confidence level for specific Competencies, and help you understand what drives changes in your confidence.

Respectful: You recognize the value and intelligence of your colleagues through your verbal cues and body language.

Relevant Nodabl Competencies: Teamwork, Leading Meetings, Conflict Resolution, Feedback and Coaching

Trustworthy: People can consistently depend on you and often look to you to assist in sensitive issues.

Relevant Nodabl Competencies: Teamwork, Conflict Resolution, Feedback and Coaching

Executive presence outlooks

Positive: You choose to look for solutions, opportunities, and chances to improve. Setbacks do not weigh on you heavily, and you do not focus on the past unless it is to learn from it.

Relevant Nodabl Competencies: Receiving Feedback, Feedback and Coaching, Effective Listening, Leading Meetings, Conflict Resolution

Attuned to others: You realize that your success is tied to the success of others, and you encourage or create opportunities for other people to develop.

Relevant Nodabl Competencies: Teamwork, Goals / Objectives Management, Feedback and Coaching

Goal and objective-focused: You think about how your team and your organization will meet future goals — as well as how you will recalibrate when there are changes.

Relevant Nodabl Competencies: Goals / Objectives Management, Persuasion

Weaving it all together

As you can see, executive presence is heavily dependent on your communication and interpersonal skills. Keep the following in mind as you interact with others:

  • Speak confidently, clearly, persuasively, and always with respect to others, regardless of their role or status.
  • Be positive, forward-looking, solutions-oriented, and always come from the perspective of “what’s best for the business.”
  • Bring a wide range of facts and information to bear in a debate, bring in other perspectives, and be open-minded — “winning” the debate is arriving at the best answer for the business, not your original position.

With awareness and consistent practice in the tasks, traits, and outlooks outlined above, your executive presence will improve.

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Written by
Lauren Meagher
Lauren Meagher is a certified executive coach and strategic advisor who is passionate about helping businesses and executives reach their maximum potential. She had a successful career working at McKinsey, American Express, Vente Privee, and (Jim) Beam Suntory and employs her expertise in leadership, team development and execution to help executives and their teams identify blind spots and go from good to great.

Leaders come to Lauren when they need to improve overall performance. From detailed individual and team assessments to 360 degree feedback to facilitation of action plans and ongoing tracking and reporting, Lauren assists executives across a full spectrum of needs from opportunity identification through execution and assessment.

Lauren holds an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School and a B.B.A. in Finance and Business Economics from the University of Notre Dame where she was a Valedictorian candidate.
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