Executive Presence

Developing Executive Presence

Hello, I’m Tim Farish from QuickMinds and I work with clients who need to develop Executive Presence (EP).

There is something that can happen at various times in an Executive’s career. It might be right at the start, when he or she is being assessed to take a step up into an executive position or perhaps when they need to convince others of more than their technical ability and management capability. Equally, it can be whilst they’re already there and either they recognise – or it’s been pointed out to them – that they need to develop in an area that will enhance others’ perception of them at the most senior level of an organisation. It is at this stage that Executive Presence is needed.

For an idea of how we develop Executive Presence – here’s a clip for you:

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The 7 Most Common Misconceptions of Gravitas

What is Executive Presence?

Simply put, Executive Presence is the ability to exude a charismatic authority that is recognised by the organisation. In reality, it’s a combination of things but primarily it’s contextual as it is often determined by a company’s culture, which makes it fascinating as the organisation norms will often dictate what is accepted as a successful EP profile.  A key ingredient is authenticity, or an ability to be credible because as well as exuding it, EP has to be believed.

There are many skills & behaviours that EP covers which can be distilled into to the following areas:

  1. Communication Impact : How do you come across, handle tough questions, interact?
  2. Influence : How do you get things done, assert and adapt?
  3. Conflict : What’s your conflict style? How flexible are you? Know what ‘battles’ to fight?
  4. Leadership Style: How clear and easy to follow are you? How bold are you?
How do you recognise it?

EP doesn’t exist everywhere and I’ve worked in organisations where it doesn’t exist at all.  When it is evident in an organisation it can show up in any individual, regardless of seniority, although it is more likely to be evident higher up in the organisation. When you see it though, it’s striking and immediate. Although, there are times when people can surprise us and also demonstrate EP.

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The 7 Most Common Misconceptions of Gravitas

Who does Gravitas well?

To give you an idea here are some examples of people who demonstrate EP in different ways:

Ursula Burns (CEO Xerox) – relaxed, disclosing, honest, emotional


Brene Brown – Reflective, Heartfelt, Humourous, Analytical


John Heggarty (CEO BBH) – Challenging, passionate, articulate, inspiring


Barack Obama – Intergrity, honesty, inspiring, realistic


Christine Lagarde (Head of IMF) – strength, conviction, poise, frank