Three Myths about Executive Presence

Posted on June 25, 2019
Three Myths about Executive Presence

Are you interested in how you can get noticed by your organization’s succession planners?

by Diana Kawarsky
Developing Executive Presence is key to securing career success. It helps others take you seriously, consider you for opportunities and trust you to make good decisions. You must look and act the part.
What is Executive Presence? While there is no single, agreed-upon definition, the term generally refers to how you convey confidence and authority through your physical demeanor, your interactions with others, your mannerisms, and more.
At its most essential level, your Executive Presence is connected to how you are perceived on-the-job. It means taking stock of the fact that you are visible. Fair or not, people’s perceptions of you have a currency which either helps or hinders your career success.
To clear up some confusion, here is a list of 3 myths about Executive Presence.

Myth #1: Canned Presence
Some think they need to attain a certain degree of career success in order to achieve Executive Presence. Wrong. It is not the result of success, but a necessary precursor. This is not a one size fit-all, or even a one size fits-most scenario. No two individuals will have the same Executive Presence. Your choices and talents, personality and temperament, competencies and expertise, experiences and vision mark your presence as unique. Developing your Executive Presence is not about taking on a whole new you; it’s about mining the latent capability you already have for being your best.

Myth #2: Innate Presence
Executive Presence is a set of skills anyone can develop – not just certain lucky people. It is wrong to think that it is something a person just has or doesn’t have. It is achieved by putting in the work to leverage how you are perceived by others and have your skills recognized. There is no exclusivity or domain rights to it. Executive Presence is identifying and developing a specific set of on-the-job behaviours that will amplify the presence potential already within you.

Myth #3: Static Presence
It is easy to think that after putting in the effort to craft one’s Executive Presence, it is then set, once and for all. Wrong. Executive Presence is a sequence of your own personal steps you learn to both identify and practice. Realistically, think of your Executive Presence as a fluid set of skills which you will resource to respond to environments and social interactions overtime. Your Executive Presence of yesterday may not satisfy the social interaction you find yourself in tomorrow. It is a sequence of skills that you can leverage throughout your career and in a variety of ways, depending on the work you do. It is dynamic and a structural support to your overall career success.
Remember, Executive Presence will look very different from one person to the next. By building the confidence of others in yourself, you can step up the ladder of professional success.


Diana Kawarsky, MA, CCP, specializes in business communications for the Schulich ExecEd, York University. She has worked with more than 20,000 business professionals, effectively improving their management communications skills to achieve higher impact results. Diana is the highly popular senior instructor for the new Schulich ExecEd program Developing Executive Presence for Exceptional Leadership. The next offering starts October 16, 2019. Participants will learn the ideas, techniques and tools – and interactively practise the soft skills – to enhance communications, make every conversation count, turbocharge meetings and social interactions.