Executive presence plays a major role in your success. This is shaped by your emotional intelligence (EI), image, interactions and impressions with others both in person and online. Ultimately, it will define your brand and reward you with personal fulfillment, promotion and the potential to reach your goals.

What is Executive Presence?

Executive presence allows you to establish your personal brand. Each person develops a brand whether intentional or unintentional. It encompasses the holistic approach you take in presenting yourself to the outside world. You are constantly developing your brand. This includes the manner in which you speak, how you dress and how you generally conduct yourself both in person and online. You are consistently communicating to others who you are. Executive presence is comprised of a proper balance of these attributes.

In addition to appearance, it is significant to have a mastery of EI skills in order to develop and cultivate your executive presence. Your emotional quotient (EQ) can position you for an opportunity that does not rely upon your intelligence quotient (IQ). EQ is like learning to play the piano. You must study theory and harmony in order to play the right chords to create a melodic presentation. Regarding emotional intelligence, these skills include decision-making, change tolerance, communication, social skills, customer service, accountability, assertiveness, trust, empathy, stress tolerance and time management.

How Does Emotional Intelligence Impact Executive Presence?

Understanding and practicing EI positions you to consistently exhibit executive presence. Daniel Goleman, author of “Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ” asserts that EI consists of four fundamental domains:


The first domain of emotional intelligence is self-awareness. Being emotionally self-aware means having an intimate knowledge of your emotions. The ability to read and understand your emotions allows you to recognize their impact on work performance and professional relationships. It is also a good practice to periodically evaluate your strengths and limitations. Overall, self-assessment builds self-confidence – another key aspect of EI.


Cultivating EI also requires self-management. Whether or not it’s in your job title, you are a manager. As a manager of self, you must learn to exhibit self-control. Keeping disruptive emotions and impulses under control allows you to be a consistent contributor within your work environment. When colleagues recognize that you are trustworthy and conscientious, they are more likely to positively engage. Leadership will respond favorably when you have a standard of excellence, take initiative, and demonstrate the skills needed to adjust to change and overcome challenges.

Social Awareness

EI extends beyond self-knowledge to social awareness. By developing the ability to sense other people’s emotions, you become more open to understanding their perspectives. Additionally, being aware of your organizational culture helps you build networks and cross-team collaborations. Together, these attributes ensure that customer needs are met.

Relationship Management

The fourth domain of EI is relationship management. As you evolve your executive presence, consider your ability to take charge and inspire others. Can you positively influence and develop the talents and contributions of others on your team? With clear communication, you can engage and guide teams and become a catalyst for change within your organization. Working with teams, of course, will also require proficiency in resolving disagreements and cultivating relationships.

How Do You Develop Executive Presence?

Executive presence is consistently rated as the most important skill of an effective leader. Extending beyond technical and functional knowledge, mastery of executive presence can become your “wow factor.” Consider the following:

  • Do you project confidence and communicate clearly? Speak in clear, well-modulated tones that fit the occasion and audience. People connect with energy, passion and joy. You are always communicating yourself to others, and 55% percent of your nonverbal communication involves your attire. Dress well and appropriately for the occasion at hand.
  • Do people listen when you speak? Learn to command a room. Be comfortable sharing engaging stories, metaphors and anecdotes.
  • Do you know how to influence outcomes? Authentic leaders are able to master the art of influencing outcomes. If you are not influential, you are not leading. What you know may not matter to people unless they first know how much you care. In order to develop acumen in executive presence, you must learn how to win hearts and minds by developing empathy and relating to others.

It is also important to be mindful of other elements that impact executive presence, such as body language and non-verbal communication. Surprisingly, only 7% of what people remember from interactions include the spoken word while 38% accounts for the tone of your delivery. The remaining 55% represents the non-verbal aspects of communication. For example, your handshake is a significant medium of communication. Touch is another non-verbal cue for promoting a bond and making a lasting impression. Indeed, people are twice as likely to remember you after shaking hands. When developing executive presence, be mindful of making eye contact and using well-placed gestures.

EI is a key element in developing executive presence.  According to Goleman in “An EI-Based Theory of Performance,” emotional intelligence can affect an individual’s success and upward mobility in an organization.

What Is the Impact of Executive Presence?

Being perceived as leadership material is essential for advancement. According to a new study by the Center for Talent Innovation, executive presence accounts for 26% of what it takes to advance within an organization. The research also highlights the significance of first impressions, as people tend to make personality assessments in under five minutes.

Travis Bradberry, Ph.D., a leading authority in emotional intelligence, states that people with a high degree of EI earn more money than people with a low degree of EI. The difference in salary? Almost $30,000 more per year! A person could earn $1,300 more per year for every point increase in emotional intelligence. Indeed, mastering the attributes of EI can dynamically impact executive presence.

Ultimately, executive presence is shaped by emotional intelligence, image, interactions and impressions. It doesn’t happen overnight. Invest in cultivating your executive presence. You will be rewarded with personal fulfilment, promotion and the potential to reach your ultimate goals.