Have you ever been to a conference to suddenly see a speaker walk in and pull all eyes towards him/her? Such individuals carry themselves with a mix of qualities that exude charisma. The moment we see them, we associate them with a strong leadership personality, a person who can carry us forward towards success by tapping in into the best within us.


What do you think, gives them this aura that differentiates them from the rest? After years of research and insights into the most important leadership traits, it has been noted, that the critical skill known as Executive Presence.

What is Executive Presence?

Executive Presence can be stated as the ability to display a combination of balance, confidence, decisiveness, and dignity. Executive Presence is sound leadership upgraded to suit a VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity) world.


Executive Presence has become a topic of keen interest in Leadership. In her book, ‘Executive Presence: The Missing Link between Merit & Success’, Sylvia Ann Hewlett states that Executive Presence is the ‘it’ factor, a heady combination of confidence, poise, and authenticity that convinces the rest of us that we’re in the presence of someone who’s the real deal.


It’s an amalgamation of qualities that telegraphs that you are in charge or deserve to be.” She adds that ‘being perceived as “leadership material” is just as critical as ability when it comes to achieving career success’.



In a study carried out by the Center for Talent Innovation on unraveling the components of this skill, Executive Presence was evaluated to be a dynamic mix of 67% gravitas (how you act), 28% communication (how you speak) and 5% of appearance (how you look).


While only 5% of leaders considered appearance to be a key factor, all of them acknowledged its potential to influence others, even within the dynamic workplace. The same study also highlights one more profound fact – Executive Presence accounts for 26% of what it takes to get leaders their next promotion.

Why is Executive Presence important for HR Leaders?

The way the workplace has been functioning since the last few decades is rapidly changing due to the adoption of emerging technologies. Every senior executive, Professional and HR Leader wants to be taken seriously as a business partner in this challenging VUCA world.


An HR leader is also expected to influence and gain the attention of his/her leaders, colleagues, and internal customers in order to achieve 360-degree growth. In fact, sharply honed Executive Presence involves 16 behavior traits as shown in the image below. All of these allow HR leaders to better represent their organizations and to create a stable personality that their teams can rely on.



Possessing a sharp EP skill set that encompasses these 16 behaviors thus becomes a pre-requisite for HR Leaders as it helps them demonstrate a strong persona which in turn helps them effectively climb the corporate ladder. Along with personal growth and development, strong HR leaders are the pillars that their organization can depend on thereby enabling them to build up a strong reputation amid competitors.


Executive Presence helps HR Leaders by enabling them to demonstrate the ‘human’ in Human Resources by means of building an authentic impression that attracts. It helps them to set the right tones that can influence people, create feelings of trust and value with their peers to form lasting long-term relationships and project confidence amid challenging scenarios.


All these skills together create a backbone to support all the other skills that make up an HR Leader. Leaders with Executive Presence skills transform self-doubt into self-assurance and treat negative situations as a challenge to build success upon. When a leader with Executive Presence speaks, people listen and feel inspired.

Is it possible to develop Executive Presence?

Absorbing all the components that make up Executive Presence may sound like a lot to soak in at first, but the great news is that just like any other skill, it can be developed over time. Developing Executive Presence is a dynamic process – it takes time and patience to develop your own unique style.


In general, Executive Presence is a skill that favors people who approach life with a growth mindset – as it is a continuous process that is better learned over time, with experience. Developing a strong presence is indeed possible with the help of intentional practice and good learning resources.


If you are a senior leader/executive or an organization looking forward to developing Executive Presence, XEd Learning Solutions offers quality executive education through a rich experience of imparting more than 2400 days of custom programmes for more than 4320 senior leaders.

XEd’s upcoming webinar on “Executive Presence for HR Leaders.”

You can also be part of XEd’s upcoming webinar on “Executive Presence for HR Leaders.” By Prof. Angela Muir. The session provides practical leadership tips for all HR Leaders by identifying the key components of Executive Presence, discussing why they are important and how to put them into practice within the everyday working environment. Register now


Established in 2015, XEd is the region’s largest provider of Custom Executive Education for Senior Leaders& boasts of an enviable list of global partner schools and top international faculty to help build a strong learning framework. Know more about XEd here


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