Tips to Develop an Executive Presence

These traits will help you climb to the top of the ladder.

Tips to Develop an Executive Presence

Executive presence can be learned.

Whether you're a few (or many) years away from the corner office or you're already established in the C-suite, it'll benefit your career and relationships to develop an executive presence. That doesn't mean you have to have a fancy watch, carry a briefcase, or have a fat expense account. Executive presence has far more to do with what's on the inside.

What Is Executive Presence?

Basically, executive presence refers to a type of comfortably confident energy that guides your behavior. To showcase this kind of professional presence, you carry with you a blend of composure, talent, and maturity that helps you make smart decisions, inspire others, and power through difficult times.

People who possess an executive presence have excellent potential for career advancement. When these workers speak, people listen. When they offer advice, people follow it.

By adopting these behaviors, you'll develop a powerful executive presence that will help you climb the ranks.

Tips for Developing Executive Presence

1. Look the Part

Your appearance counts—that's a fact. But you don't necessarily need a three-piece suit or a designer dress to be convincing. You simply need to look neat and put together. Your business attire depends on your company culture. Take cues from your organization and check out what the executives wear to the office.

There are no hard-and-fast rules for what to wear. Plenty of executives in media fields have tattoos, and it's not taboo because they're considered a mark of creativity. If, however, you worked at a Fortune 500 bank, you'd likely want to cover up your tattoos.

2. Talk a Better Game

Stay on top of industry developments. Spend time understanding what issues the top minds are discussing and predicting about the current state of business affairs. It's true that knowledge is power. Furthermore, it will help build your own confidence.

To that effect, you'll have to stop using filler words such as "um," "kind of," and "like." These throwaway words detract from what you're saying. Practice speaking in front of a mirror and pause between your ideas. You don't want to talk fast like you're rushing through a string of sentences. Try to keep your ideas succinct and communicate with people in a clear, crisp manner.

3. Perfect Your Body Language

Your nonverbal communication skills can either support or undermine what you say when speaking with others. People tend to quickly form opinions—positive and negative—based on the messages you're sending with your body language.

If you're giving a presentation, these body language tips can help you command a room:

  • Plant your feet as opposed to switching from one hip to another.
  • Bend your elbows at about a 90-degree angle.
  • Don't cross your arms.
  • Maintain eye contact with the audience.
  • Smile.
  • Use hand gestures when emphasizing key points.

4. Keep Your Cool

During stressful times, like amid layoffs or low quarterly earnings, employees will be looking for some bright spots. Someone with a professional presence won't throw gasoline on the fire. Instead, they'll stay calm and collected.

Learn how to process (and deliver) bad news in a way that doesn't completely deflate you or those around you. Be sure to mention opportunities for recovery to leave people energized.

5. Project Confidence

Employees rise up not just because of the quality of their work but because of the confident way they carry themselves. Need to amp up your confidence? Try putting your body through a series of power poses. These poses—such as putting your hands behind your head with your elbows out, or standing in a victory pose with your arms in the air—can have a positive effect on your mood and boost your confidence.

6. Know When to Step Back

An executive presence is not an overbearing one—listening skills are equally important. Smart leaders know when to be keep quiet and let someone else take command.

Round Out Your Executive Presence

Executive presence training isn't limited to executives. Admins, temps, and entry-level workers can all develop the traits that make others take note. Part of chiseling your professional presence entails consistently looking for new ways you can be doing your job better. Need some help with that? Make a Monster profile for free today. As a member, you'll get management insights, career advice, and practical leadership tips that will help you look, sound, and act like an executive—and become one.