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Qualities and Characteristics of Executive Presence

Developing executive presence is much like being an actor working to develop a character. The process is basically the same. You must step into the skin of a leader and embody the physical, mental and emotional characteristics so that you behave as an executive. As Constantine Stanislavski, the father of modern acting technique often said, you must act as if you are that character in that set of circumstances.

This article lists many of the qualities and characteristics that you must develop in order to show up with executive presence. I often coach emerging leaders to develop executive presentation and communication skills, so I am attempting to collect as complete a list as possible of qualities, characteristics and skills which cause others to perceive your executive presence. Each of these qualities can be learned and practiced.

What is an executive?

An executive is a decision-making top-level leader. As such, the executive decides the course of action, initiates the actions and inspires everyone else to carry out the plan. The executive holds the big picture or vision for the entire group. In order to make the correct decisions which will guide the organization successfully, the executive has to absorb and understand a massive amount of information without getting bogged down in too much detail.

Develop these characteristics to enhance executive presence

  1. Operate for the good of the whole organization, not just for yourself or favored individuals.
  2. Be able to make strong decisions.
  3. Be clear about your agenda which is what you want to accomplish in the organization.
  4. Be willing to stand firm for your agenda.
  5. Be willing to not be liked when you assert your ideas.
  6. Know what you think and feel so you can have your own authority from within.
  7. Know what your difference is. What you bring to the table that is different and valuable.
  8. Be willing to assert your difference at all levels of the organization and allow everyone else to assert theirs.
  9. Build a leadership platform of messages that articulate your agenda.
  10. Be able to speak simply, clearly and succinctly.
  11. Speak in a clear, strong and decisive voice tone.
  12. Know how much to speak and when not to speak.
  13. Speak to inspire others to give their best.
  14. Know the rules of political savvy to get things done with as little disturbance as possible.
  15. Embody a solid physical presence. Be able to get out of your head and into your body so others sense your presence in the room.
  16. Be supercharged with psycho-physical energy that is known as soul or superpower.
  17. Experience the ability to contain your internal energies so that you can hold boundaries.

The above is my current working list. I know it will grow. Some of these are energetic qualities, some are communication skills and some are ways of being that hold power. If you would like to work on developing executive presence characteristics, reach out to me by phone or email from my website. We can explore what you want to develop that can take you to the next level of leadership in your organization.

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