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Angela M. Odom

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Two Resources for Leadership Presence


At the Better U Project, we believe the words "Executive" and "Leadership" are used interchangeably when paired with the word "Presence". When you hear the term executive/leadership presence corporate executives, authors or thought leaders are often describing the same outcomes or observations. 

You may be have noticed people who can instantly compel you look at them and sometimes to listen to them. 

You could be a high performer, your coworkers and employees say you go out of your way to help the team, you spend countless hours preparing for meetings and projects, and are focused on moving up the corporate ladder. However, when it comes time for your performance evaluation your boss tells you to improve your presence. 

But at your last meeting with the executive team, your boss said “If you want to move into upper management, you need to improve your executive presence.” When you asked him to explain further, his reply was vague: “We all truly value your work,” she said, “but if you want to be a leader here, you need to learn to own the room. Look into getting some executive presence training, okay?”  

You left the meeting asking yourself, “What the heck is executive presence?  And why don’t my colleagues think I have it?!”

What is Executive Presence?

While the term “executive presence” or “leadership presence” has been popular for a few years in leadership circles, the definition of executive presence is rather nebulous.  In general, people agree that executive presence is comprised of the following:

  • Self-confidence
  • Willingness to tackle difficult situations
  • Unflappability – able to handle pressure
  • Poise – you have calm, relaxed, and assured body language
  • Ability to communicate – one-on-one, with teams, and large groups
  • Appearance – you are well groomed and nicely dressed (you look the part)

But here’s the thing - Executive presence looks different from one executive to another because a huge part of executive presence is authenticity – those unique qualities you possess that make you YOU and allow you to be comfortable in your own skin.

There are many executive presence tips, books, videos, and articles to help you learn what it takes to improve your executive presence. 

 While there is no quick fix to immediately improve your ability to connect with others your goal is to tap into your own authenticity and transform into your own best version of a leader; a Better U. Improve your overall presentation skills that reflect your innate talents and leadership style and message. 

 The two resources we'll discuss today will lead to you improving your overall presence and presentation skills, and connect and communicate more authentically.


I've read a few articles by leadership presence coach, Carol Kinsey Goman where she describes leadership presence as the impact of the signals that you send by your body language, your emotional state, and your communication style. Notice that none of those necessarily reveal anything about your true character and talents -- but they all influence the way people perceive you.

Leadership Presence is not an attribute that is automatically assigned to you because of your business results. It isn’t necessarily reflective of your true qualities and potential. Instead, it depends entirely on how others evaluate you. Being perceived as a leader, when interacting with customers, peers, or executives is the essence of leadership presence. 

The five C's of Leadership Presence according to Carol Kinsey Goman

1. Credibility

2. Confidence

3. Composure

4. Connection

5. Charisma


The book, "Leadership Presence: Dramatic Techniques to Reach Out, Motivate and Inspire", written by Belle Linda Halpen and Kathy Lubar, is a creative and pragmatic book about how to use tips and insights from acting and the stage to improve presentations skills. But at a deeper level, it offers great advice for developing confidence and "boardroom presence" by asking the reader to think about how he/she wants to come across as a leader, manager, or executive.

Genuine leadership requires more than putting on the trappings of power. It requires the ability to find a magnetic core that draws together a fragmented audience. In essence, the leader is able to create community. The authors tell us that leadership is a role, a part that a person plays, and the writer who seems to know the most about leadership was also a man of the theater - William Shakespeare. All of Shakespeare's tragedies, history plays, and even a number of his comedies are about the rise and fall of leaders.

Great actors have it, and great political leaders do too, as well as great business executives. They are compelling individuals who attract your attention almost effortlessly. What is it they have? They have presence. Most people think of presence as the ability to command the attention of others. But commanding attention is only one outcome of presence, not its essence. Presence is the ability to connect authentically with the thoughts and feelings of others.

The premise of the book is that presence can be developed and you will be a more effective leader when you invest some time and energy toward that goal. The author's purpose is to describe how anyone can increase their presence. Presence comes from within. Actors' success depends on presence - they must excite us when they stop onstage, or they will fail. Actors and leaders share some skills and characteristics. However, there are many items needed by leaders that are not needed by actors - creating a great vision of the future, skill in negotiating, the ability to plan and coordinate, and the courage to make decisions that change lives and direction.

You don't need a title to lead - a leader is anyone who tries to move a group towards a particular results. But you do need presence. Applying leadership presence may occur through persuading a reluctant recruit he has what it takes to charge up a hill, convincing investors to fund your great idea, negotiating a complex contract that benefits all sides.

Leaders need to 'be present,' and being physically present is the fundamental meaning of that term. It also means more than just physical presence - it includes being focused totally and completely on what is happening right here and now, giving people your full attention so they feel recognized and motivated.

When someone comes into your office unexpectedly, stop what you're doing and turn to face the person and make eye contact. Smile. Decide if you're able to talk right then or schedule a meeting later. When you do meet, turn off computer applications and the phone. Sit up straight. Make jokes - lightheartedness helps. Focus on your goal, rather than the reaction of the audience. Make the audience feel comfortable.

The Results:

  • Increased confidence, which encourages those you lead to throw their support behind you.
  • Increased clarity, which helps your team know what they’re there to do, making them more willing to take action.
  • Increased authenticity and relatability, which generates in others a greater sense of trust, belonging, and desire to connect with and support your vision, initiative or big idea.

You may have a leadership title (or great leadership potential), but is that how you others see you? Women face unique challenges when it comes to being perceived as a leader. You can’t avoid making an impression, but you can control the kind of impression you make. Be proactive in developing the attitudes, actions, and strategies that give you presence so that others see you as the leader you truly are.

In the Better U community, we focus on building our skills and leadership capacity as we are learning how to lead ourselves, others and processes. 

Start with examining the gap between how you are perceived and how you see yourself as a leader, so you can determine the leader you want to be as well as your authentic leadership style.

Conduct your research on the two resources provided today. 



Angela M. Odom is a life and leadership coach, podcast host, proud Army veteran and the author of BRONCO STRONG: A Memoir of the Last Deployed Personnel Services Battalion and a contributing author to the book, "Camouflaged Sisters: Leadership Through The Eyes of Senior Military Women Leaders". 

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Disclaimer: If you click on some of the links and make a purchase, Angela may receive compensation. So click away. 


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