6 Steps for Building Executive Presence

6-Steps-to-Executive-PresenceExecutive presence isn’t like great art in that everybody sees it differently. It’s built on learning more about yourself and how you come across to others. Then it takes deliberate practice to implement best ways to make a stronger impression as a good leader. You can’t do this alone. You’ll absolutely need a mentor or executive coach.

In SocialIntelligence: TheNewScienceofSuccess  (Pfeiffer, 2009), management consultant KarlAlbrecht encourages readers to work on the following dimensions to build executive presence: Read More »

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Executive Presence: Stronger with Leadership Storytelling

Executive-Presence-StorytellingSome executives have a knack for telling stories that explain a concept in vivid terms and inspire actions. If you don’t have that natural talent, you can increase your executive presence when you learn to use stories in a way that’s effective. Here’s why it’s so important.

The art of storytelling is a key element of leadership communications and a vital part of building executive presence. Cold, hard facts don’t inspire people to change. Straightforward analysis doesn’t excite anyone about a goal. A good story does. Here’s an example from one of my coaching clients. Read More »

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11 Ways to Have More Executive Presence


The qualities associated with executive presence can be difficult to learn and practice. It may prove impossible to develop them without the help of a qualified coach or mentor.

You can work on and improve some of these competencies by yourself, but even then, they may evade certain personalities.

Most people aren’t born with executive presence. They develop the requisite skills with experience, maturity and a great deal of effort. Read More »

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What Defines Executive Presence?

one person stand out from the crowdIs there such a thing as “executive presence”? Has this ever happened in your company: Someone gets promoted with less experience than a colleague?

Let’s say this person successfully competed against other qualified candidates, some of whom you know are just as experienced and smart. You ask yourself, “Why him?” … or, “Why her?”

Soon, through the rumor mill, you hear that it was a question of “executive presence.” As often happens in judging one candidate over another, the decision came down to small degrees of this vague concept of “executive presence.”

So you start doing a little research on this. KarlAlbrecht names it as one of the five pillars of social intelligence: Read More »

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Executive Presence, Charisma, and Nonverbal Conversations

Image of a man wearing a shirt and tie with arms crossedAt one time there were best selling business books advocating leaders cultivate “charisma.”  Then certain charming leaders turned out to be psychopaths and gave charisma a bad name. Now it seems there’s a flurry of consultants and coaches promoting executive “presence.”

Many of these books are nothing but revised tips on how leaders should communicate to inspire followers to want to do what’s needed. More than learning how to communicate like a leader, however, if a leader isn’t authentic, it’s all for naught.

It’s the non-verbals that usually give-away an inauthentic and ineffective leader. As I’ll explore in this series of blog posts, non-verbal behaviors reveal more about our authentic selves than we realize. In fact, mastering our unconscious behaviors may be the key to creating a stronger executive presence.

What exactly is “executive presence?” I may be wrong, but I think it’s replacing “executive charisma,” which got tarnished in a tsunami of corporate greed and CEO failures in the first decade of this century. Read More »

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Coaching with the Toxic Leadership Correction Plan

Toxic-Leadership-CorrectionHow do organizations correct toxic leadership and toxic behaviors once it infects a business? Is it ever too late for a prevention plan? Is transformation possible in the face of pervasive toxicity?

Many case studies have proved that change is possible, but it requires a major shift in assumptions and engagement in coaching/training. In my work as a coach and consultant, I’ve had success but also difficulties working to change toxic workplaces.

It’s never easy but coaching brings spectacular changes for leaders and the people who work for them. Not every business is ready to accept suggestions from external experts, and not everyone is ready to change. Sometimes, businesses decide to fire and hire, and often recreate similar toxic workplaces. Read More »

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Toxic Leaders and Workplaces: Waiting for “Really Bad”

Toxic-Leader-ResultsIn some ways having a toxic leader can spur positive action. It’s a shame, but often bad behavior has to get really bad before anyone is motivated to speak up.

Trauma often opens doors. Sometimes a situation has to deteriorate before people shout “Enough!” By the time HR, the executive board, the senior team and employees start using the “toxic” label, conflicts likely abound throughout the organization.

When top leaders and managers disagree about solutions, organizations postpone making important decisions and allow toxic behavior to continue. When there are power struggles at the top, the consequences reverberate throughout the company: profit dips, increased absenteeism and turnover, poor performance and abysmal customer service. Read More »

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Toxic Leadership: In Search of Prevention

Round shiny icon with white design on red background with white border.What can organizations do to prevent toxic leadership? I’ve been doing some reading and sharing on bad bosses and toxic leaders.

Perhaps what’s needed is a counterintuitive approach. Instead of dwelling on toxic behaviors’ destructive impact, consultants and coaches can work with people to create early awareness of dysfunctions. When toxicity is identified early on, there is an opportunity to turn deficits into innovative solutions.

Is this unrealistic? One expert doesn’t think so.

Instead of viewing toxic leaders as villains and liabilities, think of them as potential assets, innovators and rebels, urges management professor Alan Goldman in Transforming Toxic Leaders.

Working on the premise that “toxicity is a fact of company life,” Goldman suggests there are advantages to be gained from skillful anticipation, control, and handling of troubled and difficult leaders. Read More »

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Early Detection of Toxic Leaders


How can you tell if your organization has toxic leaders? While signs of manipulation and lack of empathy are obvious, often nobody speaks up until it’s too late.

Toxic leaders have been responsible for numerous horrific business failures in the last few decades: Kenneth Lay and Jeffrey Skilling at Enron, Dennis Kozlowski at Tyco International and Bernard Ebbers of WorldCom. While many organizations have toxic leaders, they may manage to survive for years before problems get out of hand.

Part of the problem is that there is no precise definition of toxic behavior. It’s not a psychological disorder, nor a diagnosis. It’s more of a feeling you experience in the presence of a poor leader. And use of the label can be derogatory. Read More »

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Toxic Leaders: Can Coaching Fix Bad Boss Behaviors?

Toxic-LeadershipHave you ever worked for a toxic leader, someone you think of as manipulative, two-faced, untrustworthy, and selfish?

“Toxic leaders cast their spell broadly. Most of us claim we abhor them. Yet we frequently follow — or at least tolerate — them.” ~ Jean Lipman-Blumen, The Allure of Toxic Leaders (Oxford University Press, 2004)

Lately I’ve been blogging about toxic leaders with psychopathic traits and narcissistic personality disorders. Bad leaders leave a trail of diminishing returns, ruined reputations, failed products, employee litigation and disheartened staff.

But applying labels doesn’t solve any problems. Leadership is relationship-driven, and organizational toxicity involves all levels—from followers to executive boards. Chopping off the rotting head won’t do the trick when the entire organizational system has been infected. Read More »

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