How Executive Presence Improves Your Workplace Productivity

Does your presence in the workplace stimulate motivation in your organization? Does the way you present yourself improve your interactions and achieve company goals? When you exude executive presence in your work environment, you inspire confidence in others which improves overall workplace success.

In order to enhance your workplace performance, it’s important to consider how you influence others and how the way you conduct yourself impacts the way your coworkers, employees and bosses see you.
Confident businesswoman using tablet in a meeting with colleagues in background.

Definition of Executive Presence

At its core, executive presence is the ability to portray confidence, dignity and great poise as a leader. Someone with executive presence has sound decision-making abilities and works well under pressure. Executive leaders have impeccable communication skills and give off the impression that they are confidently in charge.

Executive presence is built up of several additional factors that affect the way you are viewed in the workplace. Someone with strong executive presence is able to utilize their appearance, demeanor and communication skills to their advantage.

These characteristics are important because having executive presence will give you opportunities for upward mobility. Doing work becomes more effective and efficient when you hold executive presence because you can persuade people easily and achieve business objectives more successfully.

Managers who are in charge of promotions often claim that executive presence is a factor in making decisions around who to promote and who to give added responsibilities to. Let’s explore why executive presence improves workplace productivity as well as how to work on developing a strong executive presence.

How Executive Presence Improves Workplace Productivity

Those who master executive presence go far in their careers and in life. For example, Sylvia Ann Hewlett is an expert on workplace influence and has built a masterful career that she attributes to her ability to grow her executive presence. According to Hewlett, people with executive presence are able to attract notoriety and send out the message to those around them that they are capable of handling challenges with dignity and grace.

Those with executive presence combine aspects of their appearance, demeanor and communication skills in order to persuade people and accomplish goals.

Teams working under individuals with strong executive presence have greater productivity because they trust and respect their leader. In turn, their leader inspires confidence in the team that they can accomplish their goals by modeling positive workplace behaviors and delivering results.

A recent study showed that roughly 50 percent of how employees perceive their organization’s environment is due to the influence of their leader. An organization’s leader creates the environment that affects the employee’s moods and behavior, thus their level of productivity and engagement.

This increases efficiency in teamwork because people are engaged with their leaders and their teams in a way that avoids distractions and conflicts. Everyone is on the same page with a leader who exhibits executive presence.

Most notably, executive presence affects the way people perceive you. A large part of executive presence deals with a “wow factor” that gives you magnetism, charm, and effortless influence over others. As a leader who can positively influence your team and lead by example, efficiency in the workplace will follow.

Executive Presence Model

The Bates Executive Presence Model is a research-based assessment tool used to measure executive presence. The model uses research in leadership, communications, psychology and social action theories and has classified executive presence as a three-dimensional model of character, substance and style. Within each of these three dimensions are 15 distinct traits that make up a leader.

This model can be used to assess an employee or team members strengths as well as areas in which they could become stronger. Once an assessment has been completed, an individual’s perceived strengths and weaknesses are evaluated.

Let’s consider the three categories of the Bates Executive Presence Model:

  • Character – who a leader is as a person and includes things like values, beliefs, morals and tendencies. Leaders are rated on things such as integrity and humility
  • Substance – the way a leader approaches business. Substance includes things such as social presence, demeanor and gravitas (dignity). Leaders are rated on factors like confidence and composure
  • Style – includes factors such as appearance and inclusiveness

Influencing as an Executive

It is crucial to develop strong executive presence if you want to get ahead in the workplace. Those who have successfully honed their skills around executive presence are able to command a room effortlessly. Essentially, those with executive presence are perceived to be strong leaders based on their behaviors and actions.

Studies show that those who exhibit executive presence have a magnetism and command a natural positive influence over others. Using strong and clear language, a commanding tone, bringing energy to your communications and utilizing firm body language are all key factors to how your workplace associates perceive you.

For example, someone with a strong, firm handshake is likely to garner more immediate respect than a soft or flimsy handshake would. This is a small example of how executive presence affects everyday interactions in order to frame you as a more influential and capable leader.

Furthermore, appearance affects your influencing abilities and executive presence. Faux pas in appearance can drastically reduce executive presence and perceive ability to accomplish important tasks. Unkempt or inappropriate attire takes away from both men and women’s executive presence.

In fact, many organizations require a formal business attire to present a more professional image to clients and the public.

How to Increase Executive Presence

What is more important than understanding what executive presence achieves, is an understanding of how you can develop the skills necessary that will result in a strong executive presence.

With just a baseline of self-confidence, anybody can work on some of the traits crucial to executive presence. Let’s take a look at some of the most important factors:

  • Confidence – In addition to what you say, how you say it is equally important. It is important to interact with others using strong posture, eye contact, and appropriate facial and vocal expressions. Dress appropriate and carry yourself with confidence
  • Effective communication skills – Being able to communicate with clarity and conciseness are major aspects of executive presence. Communicating clearly with important people is a fundamental aspect of gaining respect and influence in the workplace. In addition to being clear, it is crucial that messages can be relayed with effective brevity. Avoid being overly verbose in language used to communicate with others
  • Connection – Engaging with others in a way that makes them feel comfortable is key to coming across as an effective leader. Adjust how to react and respond based on verbal and non-verbal cues from other important individuals
  • Credibility – Language used in communication affects credibility. Avoid filler words like “um,” “so,” “like,” and minimizers like “sort of” which will detract from credibility. When speaking with strong conviction, others listen more closely
  • Charisma – Individuals with executive presence are able to attract other people effortlessly through strong listening skills and focus. Convey to the people you work with that they matter with you and their trust in you as a leader will increase
  • Emotional Intelligence- Being able to control and be aware of your emotions allows for better leadership and presence in the workplace
  • Conciseness – Stick to the point and be brief when communicating with others. Allow others room for questioning and expand on those questions if needed

Next Steps

It’s important to hone the necessary skills to build executive presence as they are critical to workplace success. You can develop, strengthen and foster your personal executive presence with practice and dedication.

In addition to improving your personal skills, this will model positive growth for your employees over time. Dedication and hard work can help anyone to develop executive presence in their role. To learn more, visit KnowledgeCity’s course for a deep-dive into executive presence, how it is measured and how you can work towards developing an executive presence that will allow you to have a strong, positive influence on those who matter.

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