Thoughts on Executive Presence

I recently had a number of discussions on LinkedIn regarding Executive Presence. Here are some of the posts I started:

An executive with presence commands respect instead of having to demand it.Executive presence is established, in part, by one's dress and one's carriage. What does your dress and carriage say about you?Successful executives develop a certain air about them. Not an elitist attitude or one of superiority, but one of refinement.

Not everyone agreed with me on these statements, which was a surprise to me. Some felt that focusing on one's appearance and presence was superficial, and that a leader should be judged/assessed solely on their accomplishments. Their argument was that an executive who focuses on "presence" was simply an "empty suit".

I think that, whether we like it or not, people ARE judged in part by their appearance and presence, and therefore developing one's executive presence is meaningful.

Also, some people were quick to point out certain successful business people who do not "dress for success" or have that certain executive presence about them. While I agree that there are exceptions to the rule, the majority of us cannot escape the impact that a strong presence (or a lack thereof) has on others.

I don't think anyone would really argue that looking the part without the intelligence, knowledge and experience to back it up really is an illusion. However, my contention is that a competent leader will go farther and have greater impact if they also have a strong executive presence.

Additionally, in reading through the responses on LinkedIn (there were 100's), it also became evident that some people had really been affected by how they'd been treated by past executives/leaders. Their tone on this topic was angry and judgmental. I found this to be yet another example of the impact we, as leaders, have on the people around us. The emotional impact of our words and actions is long remembered.

We define who we are as executives, as leaders, and as people, by our words and our actions. More specifically, we define who we are by the picture our words and our actions paint about us over time.

What picture are you painting with your words and your actions?

P.S. If you'd like to join future discussions on LinkedIn as they unfold, please join one or more of the groups I belong to. (Of course, feel free to invite me to join your network as well!) Network on LinkedIn

Written by Michael Beck, Executive Coach and Strategist. For more articles on leadership, personal effectiveness and personal productivity, please visit Permission to reprint with full attribution. © 2012 Michael Beck International, Inc.

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