Many times when we ask our clients to define what executive presence means to them, the short answer is typically something like “I know it when I see it.” Executive presence is difficult to describe but is more easily recognized in a room full of people. It’s a leader’s “wow factor.” When a leader walks into a room they instantly attract intense, positive attention.
Research on successful leaders has shown how essential executive presence actually is. A survey of senior executives reported that executive presence accounts for 26% of what it takes to get promoted (Center for Talent Innovation, 2012). The definition of executive presence is not limited to just having gravitas. It can be further defined by three dimensions, outlined by Bates Communications.
If a leader lacks in one of the three dimensions, he or she does not have executive presence. Often, leaders look the part and can even appear to have substance (i.e., confidence, composure), but it’s essential to ensure that they also have character and integrity. All three dimensions are important, but a leader’s character is the foundation. We can differentiate between ineffective and effective leaders by targeting leaders who possess these traits and values.