The Je ne sais quoi of Executive Presence

Executive Presence: the new corporate buzzword. But what exactly is executive presence? You know it when you see it, but it’s a challenge to put it to words.

The Center for Talent Innovation declares that “being perceived as leadership material is essential to being promoted into leadership positions.”

In the study the CTI conducted, which resulted in this observation, a majority of those surveyed sited gravitas, communication skills, and appearance as being key factors regarding to how you are perceived.


Here’s our interpretation of the findings:

  • You must be cool under fire and think quickly on your feet
  • You should deliver a crystal-clear story no matter whom the audience
  • You need to look good doing it.

Once we are mindful of these actions, a change in behavior is just a beat away!

Here is a mini-guide to take the first steps towards exuding executive presence:

Presentation Skills:

  • We’re always presenting. Practice ‘public speaking’ in all situations.
  • Work each day to eliminate ‘filler words’ (umm, uhh, so, like, y’know).
  • Fill out your verbal space by using tone, tempo and intonation to your advantage.
  • Be mindful of your facial expressions. People are watching even when you’re not aware.


  • For Women:
    • Don’t begin sentences with ‘I think’, or end them with ‘what do you think?’. This comes off as doubting yourself.
    • Be mindful of how often you say ‘sorry’.
  • For Men:
    • Remember to listen – absorb what someone is saying instead of waiting to speak.
    • Be mindful of how often you interrupt.
  • For All: The words “I’ll try” are as bad as “believe me when I tell you”! If something is important to you, you’ll DO it, not try to do it.

Appearance: Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.

  • For Women:
    • 73% of the professionals surveyed claim that too-tight or provocative clothing undercuts executive presence.
    • Invest in a power suit or two. Check out Gurjot’s NYC website. Go into the showroom and be custom-fitted for these thoughtfully designed women’s power suits. By the time they’re done with you, you’ll feel the part!
  • For Men:
    • Executive Material?

      Executive Material?

      Invest in an overcoat. Nothing looks worse than a great suit topped by a puffed-out winter jacket.

    • Don’t wear your concert t-shirt under a button-down dress shirt.
  • For all: Tailoring is the best investment you can make.

Tune in next month for thoughts about Executive Presence beyond the survey.

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