She has it or she doesn’t


“Executive Presence” took hold a few years ago.  Now, this buzzword is the centerpiece of entire consulting firms.  By the way, this is not a bad thing – when the consultants grab onto something, its because there is value in it to their clients – and thus to them. Sometimes vice versa.

When I refer to “presence”, I am referring to how effectively you present yourself, not to how effectively you make a presentation. 

You can learn how to make a presentation – it’s a skill – kind of  like shooting free throws.  Do it enough, with the right technique, and you will get pretty good at it, even under pressure.

Presence is different. I often interview top management regarding their up and coming  “high potential” employees.   On many occasions I hear something like this – “she, you know, she just doesn’t have the right presence.” 

Presence is not easily defined.  Presence is about style and look and personality.  It is about being genuine. Check out this article for a good breakdown of executive presence in terms of generic skills.

However, my experience has been that what is often considered the right presence at one company is not necessarily good presence at another.  No matter how authentic your presence may be, it still must fit within the values of your “audience”. See my blog on personal brand for a definition of your audience.

At work, your presence has to fit within the corporate values, within the real corporate culture.  The executives at a company are the personification of its culture.  They operate effectively within the culture because they fit comfortably within it’s boundaries. 

You cannot borrow another person’s style or adopt their presence.  It won’t be genuine.  But you can figure out the boundaries that define the executive presence model at your company and decide how you fit. 

How would you define the exceutive presence for success at your company?



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