Summary: Over the past decade, as a result of the pandemic, political and economic instability, social movements such as Black Lives Matter, and changing workplace technologies, what people expect from leaders has changed.
Executive presence (EP) is typically perceived as consisting of three elements in descending order of importance: gravitas, skillful communication, and the “right” appearance. The author’s new research shows that while confidence and decisiveness are still paramount for gravitas, pedigree has become less central, and new weight is given to inclusiveness and respect for others. On the communication front, superior speaking skills and the ability to command a room still lead the list of desirable attributes, but comfort on Zoom, a “listen to learn” orientation, and authenticity are on the rise. Projecting authenticity is also key to the appearance component of EP; so are dressing for the “new normal,” having an online image, and showing up in person.
This article offers a playbook for developing six attributes that increasingly factor into executive presence, citing the examples of a dozen leaders who have cracked the code.