does your executive presence make the grade?Executive presence is the ability to project certain “executive qualities” such as confidence, grace under pressure, courage, and decisiveness, combined with important skills like effective communication and the ability to read an audience or situation and respond with emotional intelligence. Thus, your presence is the sum of your actions and behaviors, and because everyone behaves differently, presence manifests differently.

There is no single definition of the “correct” presence. Instead, leaders must make conscious choices about the kind of presence they want to project. Successful leaders understand that their actions and behaviors are highly visible, and therefore subject to judgment, criticism, or even emulation. They know that every interaction is a data point, and those data points form a pattern that can become synonymous with one’s reputation. Consequently, they manage their presence thoughtfully, always mindful of their body language, word choices, and impact.

Take a moment and think about your last six months at work. You likely had some good days and some not-so-good days. Do know what “showed up” when you showed up under the stress of tight deadlines or shifting priorities or uncooperative colleagues? What might others have noticed about your presence? Did you pick up on any non-verbal cues from them that made you wonder, “Uh-oh, what did I just say?”

Everyone has moments of regret at work. But how many “oops” moments are too many? Are you managing your presence thoughtfully?

Let’s see: which of the following best describes your presence over the past six months?

A. Consistently professional; top of my game.
B. Mostly good, with a rare slip-up now and then, but hey, I’m human.
C. It really depends on the day and what’s going on, but I suspect it could be better.
D. I don’t know; besides, I have more important things to focus on.

Do you feel confident in your evaluation? Happy with your result? And what should you do if you want to improve your presence? Click here to download a PDF of the full article including how to interpret your results and take the first steps toward powerful presence!

Lisa Parker is the President and Founder of Heads Up Coaching and Consulting. She is the author of Managing the Moment: A Leader’s Guide to Building Executive Presence One Interaction at a Time.