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Polishing Your Executive Presence

On November 4, 2009, I had the pleasure of presenting my program, Polishing Your Executive Presence, for the West Hartford Chamber of Commerce Women in Business Program Series in West Hartford, CT. Over 90 incredible women attended, contributing to a highly energized dynamic and engaging discussion about the subject. Here are some of the highlights of the topics I covered, along with some of the participants’ comments and observations:

What is Executive Presence? After looking at a series of photos of women executives, I asked the women to share their observations. Some comments were related to the women’s outer states including appearance, hair, jewelry, clothing style, etc. Many observations focused on the inner attitudes the women were projecting: confidence, warmth, approachable, cold, bored, stickler, etc. Since all this was based on the photos alone, we discussed how non-verbal communication including body language and facial expression has a significant impact on how we are perceived. Another insight was that there’s not just one “right way” to have executive presence – it comes in many different forms depending on style, personality and the organizational context in which we work.

Why is Executive Presence important to Your Career? The main theme that surfaced here is that without Executive Presence, women may not be perceived as having high level leadership ability. This could result in career limitations and an inability to reach full potential.

What can women do to polish Executive Presence? Strategies I shared on how to polish Executive Presence included paying attention to both the inner state of presence and outer state of presence. Paying attention to the inner state includes being self-aware, being fully present, and managing yourself. Paying attention to the outer state includes taking care of your appearance, monitoring your non-verbal communication, and mastering verbal communication skills.

We closed the session with the question: What kind of presence do you want to be? Answers included confident, motivating, authentic, calm, commanding, and many more unique and inspiring attributes, reflecting the executive presence of the unique and inspiring women in attendance.

I welcome you to continue this conversation on Polishing Your Executive Presence by posting your comments and questions below.


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