9 Simple Ways to Boost Your Executive Presence

Last week, I had a vivid discussion with a client around Executive Presence. In her recent performance review, she was told she is lacking Gravitas.

“Gosh, what does this even mean?”

This is a common question when it comes to Executive Presence.

Executive Presence has long been acknowledged as a critical factor in leadership. However, its definition has often been mysterious and subject to diverse perspectives.

As a result, leaders, and maybe you, have received feedback on presence without a roadmap on how to improve it.

In my view, Executive Presence, in its simplest terms, is about your ability to inspire confidence — inspiring confidence in your team members that you’re the leader they want to follow, inspiring confidence among peers that you’re capable and reliable and, most importantly, inspiring confidence among senior leaders that you have the potential for great achievements.

How you actually develop it rests on these 3 pillars:

  • How you act (gravitas)
  • How you speak (communication)
  • How you look (appearance)

Depending on the culture you work in the specifics could vary, but the pillars are universal.

Now, because I’m all about taking action, I want to share some simple tips on how you can strengthen each of these pillars to get some quick wins.

Ok, let’s dive in…

Strengthen Your Gravitas:

  • Be generous with credit: Shine the light on all those who helped you score. Find opportunities in meetings and interactions to praise others for the good work they’ve done (big or small!)
  • Stick to what you know and don’t shoot from the hip: Do not claim to know more than you do possibly could know. It’s okay to say that you will look into it and follow up with an answer.
  • Show humility: Be willing to admit mistakes and own your shortcomings!
  • Smile more: it projects happiness and likability 🙂 Yes, it’s that simple. Yet, so many people walk around with a stressed or displeased look on their face. Don’t be one of them.

Quick Wins on Communication:

  • Ditch the filler words like “um,” “like,” and “you know”: Ask a buddy to point it out every time you say them and START TODAY because this is important.
  • Master engaging small talk: Use some fun, smart questions to start small talk. Instead of talking about the weather find ways to start small talk that actually builds a connection.
  • Less can be more – In meetings, don’t speak up just to speak up. Throw in comments when you have something valuable to say. Ask for opinions and engage others instead of just babbling on simply to take up airtime.

Boost Your Appearance:

  • Understand that it’s not how good you look, it’s how appropriate you look: Are you dressing appropriately for meetings or events? If you are too casual or sloppy, people will ascribe traits to you — they may think you’re lazy or not senior enough to do your job. Ask a trusted friend and co-worker to give you honest feedback on your appearance and what message you might unconsciously be sending with your clothing and accessories.
  • Be aware of your energy: When you walk into a room, do you stand straight, with good energy, and are you prepared to interact?  Remember that eye contact, a firm handshake, a smile, and your first and last words are part of the first impression you make.

I hope you find these tips for quick wins helpful because making an impression is not a choice; it’s an inevitability.

It would be disheartening to see that all your great work, your smarts, and your grit won’t lead to the career advancement you deserve because the impression people have of you doesn’t match these great traits.

Whether you know it or not, eyes are going to be on you, and you’re never sure who is viewing you. You can make a great, bad, or neutral impression. Be aware of this.

If you want to dig deeper and take an Executive Presence Self-Assessment, then send me an email at contact (at) ramonashaw.com and I’ll send that over to you (for free, of course!).

Your leadership coach,



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