To Have Executive Presence You Have to Know What it Is!

Season #1

" Executive presence is the ability to comfortably draw and hold attention while delivering a business-savvy message."

Susan L. Colantuono


 In an earlier podcast I talked about a woman who had received feedback about needing greater executive presence. This could be an any of thousands of women who've received that feedback that I've worked with over the years. So I want to do a quick musing into the topic of executive presence.

What is Executive Presence?

The important thing to understand is, what is executive presence?

Most of what's written about it will not serve you because there's no differentiation between skills and abilities that are needed for a preacher or a doctor or a politician versus an executive.

So when I decided to help women work on their executive presence, again in my nerdy way, I had to come up with a definition that was actionable. So here's the definition I share that many women have found useful as they work on this skill-set and perception.

Executive presence is the ability to comfortably draw and hold attention while delivering a business-savvy message.

Most all of the advice about executive presence is all about the first part of that definition, the ability to draw and hold attention. Nobody in my research has talked about executive presence being differentiated from any other kind of presence by virtue of having to include business savvy messaging. And this is where the very important tie between executive presence and The Missing 33% comes in.

Deliver a Business Savvy Message

It's only possible to deliver business savvy messaging if you are adept at business, strategic and financial acumen. All of the other advice about posture and tone of voice and gestures mean nothing if you can't deliver a business savvy message.

On the other hand, there are many women, even Fortune 500 CEOs, who have not had the polish that one would expect, but could credibly speak about the business of the business, the financial story, and the strategy. So both are important.

If you had to choose one, I would go for business savvy messaging, but luckily you don't.

You can work on your ability to draw and hold attention AND your ability to deliver a business savvy message.

Shape Your Message for Your Audience

Another key piece is the ability to shape that business savvy message to your audience.

A quick example, tapping one of my favorite quotes by anonymous. Not the internet hacking group.

" No one cares the storms you encounter, they only care did you bring in the ship."

What I mean by that is no one cares about the backstory. No one cares about how hard you work.

If you're trying to deliver a business savvy message, you have to pitch it to the lens through which your audience is looking. - If the audience is your boss, the lens is, "How does this help me be successful in the broadest and best meaning of that phrase? How does this help me move my teams and the organization forward? -

Then, the further up you go in the organization, the more the meaning shifts to, "What's the impact of this on the organization? What's the impact of this on its financials? What's the impact of this, on its strategy?

So executive presence, three major elements.

  1. The ability to comfortably draw on hold attention -that touches on all the conventional advice about posture, attire, tone of voice, eye contact, et cetera.
  2. Delivering a business savvy message, which reiterates yet again the importance of The Missing 33%: business, strategic and financial acumen.
  3. Pitching the content to your audience and the lenses through which they are looking.

Susan Colantuono coming to you this morning from the shores of Rincon, Puerto Rico.

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Podcast produced and original theme music by Megan Tuck