Inside Scoop: What Are Executives Really Doing in Executive Coaching? (Part 2 of 3)

#2 Executive Presence (11%)

About a decade ago, the trendy term “executive presence” burst onto the scene – along with confusion about its meaning.  Still, it is our #2 most common area for development among executive coaching engagements.

We’ve conferred with our CoachSource Qualified executive coaches, who particularly specialize in executive presence to shed more light on the subject:

Our Panel:

Bernice Ang, WI USA
Stephanie Barbour, CA USA
Joel Garfinkle, CA USA
Sandra Henson, UK
Craig Martin, CA USA
Ritu Mehrish, Singapore
Andrea Buell, CoachSource Director

What is Executive Presence?

 “Executive presence involves stepping into one’s power, conveying confidence, and leading with conviction,” says Joel Garfinkle.  “It is your ability to inspire CONFIDENCE in others,” adds Bernice Ang.  While traditionally associated with charisma, confidence, authority and gravitas, Sandra Henson now describes it as “qualities and behaviors that enable leaders to convey trust, credibility, influence others, paint a vision and deliver results.”  We’ve seen coaching assignments focusing on how one presents, speaks and even personal image/attire.  (Our – jokingly – favorite definition of executive presence?  “We’ll know it when we see it!”).

Why do executives seek to grow in Executive Presence?

“The leaders I meet are growing in their roles due to past successes,” says CoachSource Director Andrea Buell.  “They need to be able to project their visions and inspire greater numbers of people at the same time,” agrees Joel Garfinkle, adding “As you rise in your organization, you’ll realize how much greater your executive presence must become.”  But in today’s environment, “executives often find themselves leading in a state of emotional reaction fueled by their stressed-out nervous system,” suggests Stephanie Barbour, “when execs realize they are acting in ways that may be career-limiting, it becomes a critical development goal to acquire poise, presence, and intentionality.”  To that end, Ritu Merish adds “A successful leader needs to navigate her team/organization with calmness, clarity and decisiveness.”

Why is executive presence particularly important in 2024?

While the pace of change has always been challenging, the demands are even greater post pandemic.  “Employee engagement is tanking, and burnout is escalating,” says Bernice Ang.  “There is the changing stakeholder landscape and their increasingly diverse expectations,” adds Sandra Henson, “as well as the need to balance global and local agendas.”  “Executives are working in more complex environments with employees and customers from a range of countries, ethnic and cultural groups,” says Stephanie Barbour.  The rise in remote work has also made demonstrating executive presence much more difficult when everyone is on a tiny screen.  But through this, “It is imperative for leaders to stand as beacons, illuminating the way ahead, guiding their teams to navigate the turbulent waters, and inspiring confidence in them to forge ahead,” concludes Bernice Ang.

What business problem(s) does this improved Executive Presence solve?

The counter to the record lack of employee engagement is an effective leader with strong presence who can inspire confidence, trust and motivation within their teams.  This can have  a marked impact on retention rates as well.  External stakeholders, such as investors, clients, and partners play a crucial role in the success of a business. A leader with executive presence can instill confidence and trust in stakeholders through their professionalism, credibility, and ability to articulate a clear vision and strategy. This can lead to stronger partnerships, increased investment, and enhanced brand reputation.  “In the final analysis,” concludes Craig Martin, “it’s an executive’s ability and reputation for making a positive impact that defines strong executive presence.”  An executive making a positive impact moves the needle on any number of business problems.