Executive Presence Tips from the Presidential Debates

Nov 1, 2012
4 Min Read

“He just looks more Presidential.”

It’s a statement I came across about one of the candidates while watching the debates. Regardless of which candidate this statement was about, it’s an interesting metric. It doesn't focus specifically on their agenda, experience, or even skills, but it does speak to the ability to influence others, credibility, and ultimately the ability accomplish critical objectives.

The implication for the rest of us is that there’s something else that matters in your quest for success—whatever your personal and professional journey might be—besides how talented you are, how well you do your job, and how well you get along with others. Executive presence. Small nuances in behavior that demand respect, inspire, create impact, influence important others, and consistently generate value.


Leaders with executive presence deliberately control the pitch, volume, and speed of their speech. When they speak, they vary each to emphasize a point or gloss over what they consider a less important detail. You may notice they captivate your attention and they are easy to listen to. In an era of considerable written communication, they are able to be clear, succinct, and concise while still taking the time to use proper grammar, spelling, and highlighting features (bold, italics, bullets) that makes messages easy to read and understand.

Work Style

Leaders with executive presence have a consistent and honed management approach. They have their strengths and weaknesses as we all do, of course, but there is a sense of authenticity about them that allows you to predict how they will react to any given situation.  This, coupled with a deep sense of self-awareness and sufficient humility, ensures that they do not impose any barriers or limitations on team productivity. In a way, they make what they do look simple and easy.

Focus and Emotional Control

Leaders with executive presence have a remarkable ability to focus on just one thing at a time, despite being extremely busy. While they make have extraordinary responsibility and a to-do list longer than many of us can imagine, when you interact with them, they listen and you never get the sense that they are too busy. If it’s worthy of their attention at all, then it gets their full attention.


Leaders with executive presence have a consistent and elegant personal style. This includes clothing, shoes, accessories, hair, make-up, scent, and even weight. More importantly than any single individual element, everything ties together to create a polished look. There is certainly plenty of room for individuality (especially for women), but generally, it borders on the conservative side but is also appropriately modern.

To most people, a sense of executive presence doesn't come naturally and it’s not learned easily... but it has a memorable impact.

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