Leadership: Top 5 Attributes for a Strong Executive Presence

By December 18, 2014 No Comments
Man straightening tie

By: Maurice Gilbert

Man straightening tie

In the most recent survey of our clients, we asked about the top attributes they look for to evaluate a professional’s executive presence. Listed below are the top five attributes:

Verbal presentation skills: Specifically, they evaluate the executive’s energy and enthusiasm when he speaks. Effective leaders must sell ideas to succeed, and others gravitate and are receptive to messaging that is presented in a dynamic fashion.

Physical presence: This area includes posture when entering a room, a confident and firm handshake when greeting others and a presence that conveys confidence throughout a business meeting. By way of illustration, we have all been able to detect body language when watching our favorite sports stars. If the athlete has his head down and shoulders hunched over, he is clearly expressing negative thoughts. If you watched Michael Jordan, you did not observe this negative body language even if his team was losing…he always stood erect and had a look of quiet confidence and resolve.

Appropriate dress: I separate this from physical appearance because our clients distinguish the difference in projecting a strong presence and the clothes a professional chooses to wear. Wear clothes appropriate for the occasion (e.g., if you’re a female, you don’t want to wear excessive jewelry or a top that is too low-cut… if you’re a man, you may choose to wear a shocking pink tie to a social event, but it would be quite a distraction in a business meeting).

Listening skills: My grandfather told me that we have two ears and one mouth…use them proportionately…(meaning, listen 66 percent of the time and speak 33 percent of the time.) Think about it this way: you cannot be an effective communicator if you don’t know what the other person is interested in gaining from the conversation. Let’s use the doctor analogy…you go to the doctor because you aren’t feeling well and the doctor asks: where does it hurt and what are the symptoms?  And he probably conducts a physical…the doctor is doing the diagnosis before presenting a cure, and so should you in your business conversations.

Developing strong professional connections: The professionals we present to clients are expected to shape and influence others, inclusive of the C-Suite and the Board of Directors. To position oneself to do this, one needs to develop solid relationships built on trust. Quite simply, this requires an investment in cultivating strong relationships.


Maurice GilbertMaurice Gilbert is Managing Partner of Conselium Executive Search, which specializes in placing Compliance Officers and Legal Counsel for clients in the U.S., Europe, Latin America and Asia Pacific.  Maurice is also CEO of Corporate Compliance Insights, a worldwide publication devoted to governance, risk and compliance issues. Maurice can be reached at maurice@conselium.com or maurice@corporatecomplianceinsights.com.

Published by Conselium Executive Search, the global leader in compliance search.  

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