Executive presence: The key to unlocking your leadership potential

Executive presence is that unique combination of qualities that sets leaders apart. It’s also a skill that anyone can develop. Here’s how to do it.

Executive presence: The key to unlocking your leadership potential

What qualities make a good executive? Poise, thoughtfulness, decisiveness, empathy and rapport, to name a few. But there’s a certain something that sets top-notch executives apart that can be hard to define — that intangible quality that inspires people to follow their lead: their executive presence, or EP.

But what, exactly, is executive presence? Here we take a look at what comprises executive presence, how it can be developed, and how biases in the workplace can affect how executive presence may be interpreted or conveyed.

Executive presence defined

Executive presence is the unique combination of qualities and the authentic capacity to connect in a way that inspires while remaining true to who you are, says Sarah Greenberg, lead coach and program design lead at mobile coaching platform BetterUp, as well as a licensed psychotherapist and author.

“[No one] attains a top job, lands an extraordinary deal, or develops a significant following without this heady combination of confidence, poise, and authenticity that convinces the rest of us we’re in the presence of someone who’s the real deal. It’s an amalgam of qualities that telegraphs that you are in charge or deserve to be,” writes Sylvia Ann Hewett in her book Executive Presence: The Missing Link Between Merit and Success.

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