7 Alarming Signs That You Lack Executive Presence

What does executive presence mean? What would executive presence add to you? Perhaps you secretly dream of your presence making a huge difference to your life. Perhaps you dream to captivate the audience. Or charm others enough to gain the advantage in a competition or promotion or negotiation. Maybe you want to wow the audience with your distinctive level of gravitas. Unfortunately, all these examples miss something about executive presence. These examples are then based on the misunderstood notion of executive presence. Executive presence is not about you but about how others experience you. The ambiguity around this phrase is amazing. If you don’t define executive presence, it is unlikely that your executives or employees will develop it either.

Let us understand what it means when a person lacks executive presence. Here are the 7 unmistakable warning signs,

1. You Falter Preferring Not to Ask Questions

Those with executive presence are assertive and bold in a respectful manner. You need to take up your space that is rightfully yours. When you are flustered and prefer not to ask questions, you give the message that you are not yet ready to handle responsibility. Your anonymity takes away the chance from you to show your worth, while you fail to instil confidence and trust in others. In addition, when you do not ask questions you deny yourself the opportunity to be helped. Being calm and composed under intense pressure is a sign that you have executive presence.

2. You Ramble

When you speak too much or dominate the conversations, you utterly disregard others. Or, at least give that message. When you over-explain or ramble, you definitely sound unsure and indecisive. The listening skill is a great hallmark of executive presence. Those who dominate the conversation are ineffective listeners with little regard for goal achievement or problem solution. Leaders with executive presence can communicate their message precisely and clearly.

3. Emotional Challenge and Wrong Body Signal

High emotional intelligence is the most fundamental trait of great leaders. In order to persuade and influence others, you need to empathize with the emotional state of your audience. You need to moderate your emotion in response to the emotion of your audience, even if it is contrary. Alternatively, you risk disengaging from your audience and lose their trust. The leaders use body language effectively to engage their audience and communicate their message.

4. You Don’t Look the Part

Your appearance signals the first impression. Appropriate appearance for the setting ensures you are consistent with the other leaders in your industry or organization. A great outfit is one that makes you feel great. When you feel great, you will reflect it through your level of confidence.

5. You Don’t Engage with Your Audience

One of the core essentials of executive presence is to make others feel important and valued. They should feel comfortable interacting with you. Otherwise, you send across the message that you are not interested in your audience. For instance, when you show up in meetings or events late, you give this message. Your audience will perhaps conclude that you are not interested in their problems or in them. Alternatively, you must take extra effort at connecting and networking with people so that they believe you are interested in them. That is how you gain their trust.

6. Your Verbal and Non-verbal Messages are Incompatible

Executive presence means consistency in communication. This is what really builds belief and trust. Your executive presence is diminished when the confidence and credibility with your message diminishes. One of the sure signs of this disconnect is when you are found rambling or fidgeting. The verbal and non-verbal incompatibility is evident when you say or promise something that you don’t mean to fulfill. The audience can easily read through. Your body language is a tell-tale sign.

7. You Do Not Set Standards for Ethics and Integrity

Leaders with executive presence set high standards of ethics, integrity, and morality. They hold themselves and others accountable for the breach. They do not have double standards. When others perceive you as lacking in these standards, they discredit and disregard you. You lose their trust. You may likely also diminish your executive presence when you create unresolved ethical dilemmas for your team. You need to also create boundaries between acceptable and unacceptable behavior or conduct to be constantly upheld.


Executive presence is not as much about you as it is about how much others are inspired by you. It is about how others experience you. It is less about how confident you are in your abilities than how confident others are about you. It describes you only in relation to others. It is about the level of credibility others perceive in you.

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