Executive Presence . . .

Leader Lightbulb

. . . How Capable Leaders Project Emotional Intelligence

Executive Presence is that hard-to-define, but immediately recognizable quality that makes certain leaders stand-out – often by their mere presence. It’s far more than image. Image is one component, but not the primary one. It has little to do with content or technical knowledge, and it has everything to do with communications, leadership and credibility.

You know when a leader with strong executive presence is in the room, but NOT because they are aggressive, loud or over-the-top in any way. Others are aware of them even when they are not actively participating. Emerging executives often pattern themselves after them, modeling their appearance, attitude, even fashion choices.

Executive presence is essentially the way a leader projects emotional intelligence.

It begins with self-awareness, and contains the primary elements of the four EI skills[1] – self-awareness, self-control, social awareness and relationship management. What is commonly considered ‘Executive Presence’ is the ability to consistently and effectively project appropriate leadership qualities. In fact, if pressed to sum it up in one word, that word would be “appropriate.” Executive Presence qualities include:

  • Demonstrated competence [different from ‘telling’ everyone what they have done/ can do]
  • Confidence – calmly confident – never arrogant. Never elevating themselves at someone else’s expense. Confident enough to publicly own their own mistakes.
  • Influence. The ability to engage and energize others in pursuit of new ideas and goals
  • Communications are powerful, clear and concise. They ask questions to assure understanding and shared expectations.
  • Focused, reflective listening – they make eye contact, smile, ask questions and provide feedback; they are genuinely tuned-in and interested. Focus is paramount. A tuned-in executive is always ‘present’. They save introspection and daydreaming for private moments.
  • Integrity and candor. Politically aware but not overly ‘political’
  • Loyalty – to the team and the organization
  • Comfortable in their own skin; not self-conscious. They don’t fidget, adjust their clothing or hair. They arrived put-together, prepared, and ready to focus on the people and outcomes.
  • Inclusiveness, warmth and acceptance. They remember and use others’ first names, whether they’re part of the power elite or not. [Others want their eyes to land on them with approval in a meeting, and they hope they weren’t paying attention to their recent faux pas.]
  • They ‘walk the talk’ – deliver what they commit to – and surround themselves with others who do the same.

Some elements of executive presence will vary depending on the organization’s leadership, culture or stage of development.

Contact us today to begin the conversation about taking executive presence to the next level.

For additional views on executive presence:



[1] Emotional Intelligence and Working with Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman


© copyright 2012. Marilou Myrick and Masters Among Us, Inc. All Rights Reserved


  1. Leadership – nature or nurture? | The Stage - January 24, 2015

    […] Executive Presence […]

  2. ‘Executive Presence’: = / > ‘Charisma’? | The Stage - September 27, 2013

    […] The primary attributes that are essential to executive presence were listed. Here’s the link to the article including the list of attributes: Executive Presence […]

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