Executive Presence: Who Has It and How Can YOU Get It?

Executive Presence: Who Has It and How Can YOU Get It?

Executive Presence: Who Has It and How Can YOU Get It?


Masterful leadership presence empowers mere mortals to transform businesses into amazing powerhouses. Those who have it come across as personally and professionally genuine, relevant, confident and tuned in on all levels. It’s more than charisma – it’s what’s known as having “the whole package.”

Some examples of leaders with spectacular leadership presence are:

  • Richard Sheridan, CEO, Menlo Innovations
  • President Obama, Former President, United States
  • Oprah Winfrey, Founder, Harpo Productions
  • Sheryl O’Loughlin, former CEO of Clif Bar, cofounder of Plum Organics, and current CEO of REBBL


How can you achieve executive presence? Can it be cultivated or is it just an intuitive skill that some people really “get”? The answer is both – there are certainly people who intuitively display powerful executive presence, but I believe executive presence is often a skill honed over time.

In order to improve executive presence, it is critical to have a clear picture of the various aspects that make up this element of leadership. Someone with executive presence:

  • Excels in multiple dimensions of emotional intelligence
  • Influences through meaningful connections without necessarily needing to command authority
  • Connects by being present (listening and taking action) and employs emotion/empathy/equitable treatment and acknowledgement
  • Speaks with clarity and confidence
  • Effectively expresses passion and energy
  • Listens to understand instead of waiting to be heard or focusing on being heard (listening actively, empathically)
  • Displays confidence
  • Acts courageously
  • Displays resilience (with respect to setbacks, challenges and failures)
  • Demonstrates poise, even under pressure
    • Unrushed, straightforward, unflappable
    • Balanced, showing authentic emotion
  • Is decisive
    • Problem solving/decision making (including analytic & innovative thinking)
  • Presents a professionally relevant and appropriate appearance


Now that you understand what Executive Presence is, how do you begin to cultivate this powerful skill? As a professional executive coach, I believe the first step is to hire an experienced coach. An executive coach can help you to identify your strengths and weaknesses, potential blind spots and identify the best methods for improving your skills. By working through the very clarifying process of coaching with a seasoned professional, you will develop a top executive skill that will undoubtedly propel you to lead an organization in your most authentic masterful way.

Below are a few of the steps I take my clients through to help them down the path of building positive executive presence:

  • Help clients gather feedback, either formally or informally from colleagues, employees, mentors, consultants, professional coach, friends and family
  • Openly discuss all forms of feedback with clients to help them set up a plan or follow-up process to utilize the information constructively
  • Create awareness and full understanding of client character strengths and assist them in the practice of maximizing the use of those strengths throughout each day
  • Identify client core values and help them to understand the importance of being mindful of those values during difficult personal and professional moments
  • Using a variety of coaching strategies, partner with clients to develop authentic personal and professional mission and vision statements
  • Shadow my client in his or her professional environment in order to fully explore interpersonal skills and relationships at the office; followed by coaching sessions designed to help the client practice new strategies for improving communication and relationships

As you can imagine, there are many more steps in the process of coaching executive presence, but the above list provides a snapshot into the first steps towards developing this top skill. For leaders that want to make an enormous impact, executive presence is one of the most important skills to master – it is also one of the most challenging in terms of intrapersonal work! Working with a masterful coach provides an amazing structure and atmosphere for this development.

For more information about Executive Coaching with Kimberly Putman, please contact her at Kimberly@kimberlyputmancoaching.com or 504-261-1026.