By: Suzanne Bates, CEO

Executive Presence is so hard to define, that most people say, “I know it when I see it.” 

So, what is it anyway? 

  • Presentation skill?  
  • Image? Style?
  • Charisma? Savvy?  

The answer is, all of the above, and a whole lot more. To get to the heart of what it is and why it matters, we spent years researching and developing a simple, powerful definition:   

Executive Presence is the ability to engage, align, inspire and move people to act!

It’s not only about how you show up, looking and acting the part, but the qualities that really matter, because they enable you to influence others, make an impact, and drive organizational performance.

15 Qualities that Every Leader Can Develop

Decades of research in leadership and management studies, communication and social action, psychology, philosophy and ethics led to the only research-based model executive presence.


Ask yourself: “Which five of the qualities below would others consider to be my greatest strengths?

  • Authenticity: Am I real, genuine, transparent, and sincere in my interactions with others; would they agree that I say what I mean, and mean what I say?
  • Integrity: Do I always act based on core values and beliefs, live up to high standards of morality, keep my promises, keep meetings, and arrive on time so people count on me?  
  • Concern: Do I show genuine, consistent interest in others, encouraging them to develop and promoting a healthy sustainable culture?
  • Restraint: Do I maintain a calm disposition, and avoid being impulsive, overly emotional or extreme?
  • Humility: Am I aware of my strengths and weaknesses, open to others, and do I make room for everybody’s good ideas?
  • Practical Wisdom: Am I known for bringing insight and judgment that get to the heart of issues and help produce prudent decisions?
  • Confidence: Do I demonstrate self-assurance in timely decision making, am I ready to accept risk, do I get groups to move things forward?
  • Composure: Would others say I’m steady in a crisis, calm and able to focus others to bring perspective to critical decisions?
  • Resonance: Do I really connect with others? Am I thought of as someone who is attentive, attuned and responsive to feelings and motivations?
  • Vision: Do people see me as on top of trends, looking out to the future, and inspiring them with an enterprise wide picture of what could be?
  • Appearance: Would others say I look the part of a leader? Is my dress, polish, grooming, energy and vitality that of an executive?
  • Intentionality: Do I clarify direction and would others say I keep the group on track without sacrificing room for dialogue to get people aligned?
  • Inclusiveness: Do I actively involve others, welcome diverse points of view, and empower others?
  • Interactivity: Do I promote an interpersonal, relaxed dialogue and the exchange of timely information to coordinate action?
  • Assertiveness: Would others say I speak up and put issues on the table without shutting others down?

What about the boxes I didn’t check?

The only way to know your strengths and gaps is to get feedback from trusted advisors. The ExPI Assessment is a 360-style assessment that does this.

However, before you take that step you can complete a three-minute, complimentary pre-assessment survey, and receive a brief personal guide in your inbox the same day.

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