Combining The Traits Of Executive Presence

By September 30, 2019 December 6th, 2020 Executive Coaching

All of these traits and abilities can be rounded up into 3 distinct categories: 

  • Character
  • Style
  • Substance 

Your character is who you are, your innermost self. It is made up of all the values and traits that make you who you are. Your character determines how you see the world around you, how you see others, how you see yourself. 

While a person’s character is arguably the most important thing that creates a leader, this is something that cannot be seen by the outside world. Your integrity, courage, priorities, and optimism help to create your character. When you are in a position of leadership, you rely on these character traits and values to lead. You must know who you are and where you stand in order to consistently operate in your role as a leader.

The way people see you and experience you as a person is determined by your style. Often, your style determines the first impression others make of you. 

To figure out who you are, they rely on the way you dress, the way you carry yourself, your speech and your mannerisms, and the way you interact with others. If the way you carry yourself does not shout “leader”, others are less likely to follow you. If others don’t see you as someone worthy of the position or title you hold, they will often tune you out. While it might not be fair, everyone makes presumptions of others based on observations when it comes to style.

Your gravitas, your demeanor, and your social presence are the things that make up your substance. Your substance is how you integrate your character into the way you behave as a leader. As a leader, one must evoke a sense of maturity and wisdom. A person with executive presence must be strategic, confident and composed when interacting with others. Many leaders have been seen as having a lot of style, but no substance. These leaders don’t last long because they’ve got nothing to offer.

Knowing Where You Stand

How do you know if you’ve got a shot at leadership? 

How can you know if you command attention when you walk in a room? 

How can you tell if you’ve got executive presence?

In this section, we’ll touch on how to assess yourself and your standing when it comes to your executive presence. 

Peer Evaluation

While it is important to have confidence in yourself, and to trust what you bring to the table, executive presence is really all about how others perceive you. To perform a realistic assessment and determine where you stand when it comes to executive presence, you must also rely on the people around you for feedback.

First, be willing to accept constructive criticism. The only way to get better and develop in areas where you are lacking is to first understand what and where they are. 

Now, figure out who you want to evaluate you. No, your mother is not a good source here, she’s likely far too biased. Same goes for your spouse. Instead, turn to a work colleague who has no problem being candid with you. Perhaps a peer mentor, a supervisor, or a business partner. If you feel like you have no one to turn to in these roles, now is a good time to start cultivating relationships with them.

Have your evaluator look over the 8 Traits Of Executive Presence in the last section. Once they’ve reviewed them, have them answer what your strengths and weaknesses are when it comes to those traits.

Once you’ve received your feedback, evaluate how it matches up with where you want to be. Are you projecting what you mean to, or are you far off the mark? You might have certain intentions and you might think you are conveying that to others when in reality you are not being perceived the way you think you are.

Adjust where needed but also accept that others will not always see you the way you want them to and that’s fine. Just keep striving after your goals and keep trying to build the traits that come with executive presence.


Sometimes we are not in a situation where we can rely on others to evaluate us. Perhaps you are an entrepreneur with no business peers to turn to. In this case, a trusted friend could work, but that’s not always your best bet. Sometimes, you need to take a realistic look at yourself and honestly evaluate what is going on.

Take a look at the 8 Traits Of Executive Presence and determine where you think your strengths and weaknesses are. When you are through, adjust your expectations and attitudes to better align with where you want to be.

Here is a short self-evaluation tool for determining if you have executive presence, or if it is something you don’t currently possess. 

  • Do you care too much about what others think, changing who you are to please them?
  • Are you someone who seeks validation, chasing after recognition and attention for what you do?
  • Do you dismiss compliments trying to avoid attention?
  • Are you a person who plays it safe? Do you freeze when it comes time to make a decision?
  • Do you brag about all you’ve accomplished, or take credit for work done by others?
  • Are you likely to shift blame? To cover up your mistakes, or try to fix them quickly before they are noticed by others?

If you answered yes to more than a few of these questions, you do not have high executive presence.

 Don’t worry though, you do have the ability to change your situation. You just need to be honest with yourself and be ready to make some changes.

 In the next section we will go over what you need to do in order to build executive presence, so keep reading!

  • Are you a person who does what is right even when you know there will be consequences?
  • Do you often give the glory to the team, knowing that you wouldn’t be successful without them?
  • Can you realize when it is time to let something go even if you’ve invested a lot in it?
  • Are you likely to take risks? Are you willing to tackle the unknown, outside your comfort zone?
  • Do you push into new situations, even when perfect conditions have yet to be met?
  • Can you admit your mistakes? Do you have the ability to learn from them?
  • Are you satisfied with what you’ve done even if you don’t receive validation from others?
  • Can you graciously accept compliments?

If you were able to answer yes to most of these questions, then you likely have a high executive presence. Congratulations – half the battle is won!

Even if you have what it takes when it comes to executive presence, you must still be able to effectively lead, and get others to follow.