Executive Presence:Does It Matter?


Holding a mirror up to ourselves ain’t always easy. In this piece by Joann Lublin of the WSJ called How To Look and Act Like  A Leader we learn about the various ways managers are addressing the issue of how they look and sound.

I agree that it is often the non-verbals that kill the deal. Judging by the  WSJ comments, not everyone agrees. Some write that this kind of training unfairly focuses on women. Others think that it is a topic not even worth writing about. And a few link it to credibilty. I agree with the last camp. How we dress, how we sound and how we use our body do form an impression.

The often quoted stats are that 73% of our impact concerns our vocal and non-verbal presence. While these numbers have been questioned, I do think it is generally true. Leaders can command a room or they can speak and have their message land with a thud. It can be their tight shirt,  lack of eye contact or chair slouching. Either way, it is typically not the content but how they present themselves when delivering it. Introverted and extroverted leaders alike can work at coming across in a more  confident manner.

So how do you get started on enhancing your presence?

The best advice in the article came from James Citron a CEO recruiter for search firm Spencer Stuart. “Imitate their behaviors “that feel comfortable and natural for you,” he recommends. Mr. Citrin cites a CEO candidate he recently watched being interviewed by the board search committee at a $10-billion company. Among other things, the prospect “looked the committee members alternately straight in the eye” as he answered their questions “slowly but very clearly.”


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