Boardroom Beat #11: The A-B-C’s of Executive Presence

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At the onset of every engagement clients set measurable goals. “What difference do you wish for in six months?” 80% of i3 Coaching engagements in 2021 included some version of “Executive Presence” as a focus area.

Executive Presence is not Just for Executives

Executive presence is relevant for leaders at all levels of the organization. Emerging professionals approach executive presence with astute awareness of the connection to promotability. Seasoned executives also scrutinize and optimize executive presence and personal brand throughout successful career journeys. Last week the Head of L&D for a corporate client introduced a new coachee candidate as a “VP who is taking on an elevated role with a lot of expectations.” Odds are high that with that Veep I will partner on leveraging personal leadership brand and polishing executive presence.

The Executive Presence Practicum

After just a few coaching sessions clients get to apply basic concepts of Executive Presence in a real and facilitated scenario - the goal alignment meeting. By the end of the second month of every client invites their lead or mentor to a coaching meeting. At this meeting it is their responsibility to own the agenda and ensure alignment with the engagement goals they have set and on which we are working. Tangential observation - the lead is almost always fully aligned, but often overlays suggestions that fall in two categories a) bigger picture b) more personal focus on balance/wellness.

While Personal Brand may vary widely with much room for unique expression, the mastery of meeting clarity and gravitas is precise. In no more than 30 minutes the coachee states meeting objective and agenda, shares goals, elicits reactions, gathers new inputs, then finalizes goals. Process and meeting efficacy are executive presence markers. There’s more.

The A-B-Cs of Executive Presence: Be….

Demonstrate transparency and candor in acknowledging gaps and daring to dream. What really matters? What must change? What is possible?


What challenges may block success? What resources or support are needed? What needs to be said?


Avoid the tendency to couch tough conversation in an abundance of words. Too many words dilute the message.

Getting EP Results

Awareness and intention of these A-B-C’s can move the Executive Presence bar. Clients are able to practice the behaviors, repeated behaviors become habits, habits become the foundation of attitude over time. Executive presence evolves and matures over years, but anyone willing to do the work is able to get a jumpstart on executive presence. With a nod to over-simplification, the invitation to get a song stuck in your head, and the enticement to bust a move to remember the lyrics of the Jackson 5 release of “A B C” in 1970. (It knocked the Beatles “Let it Be” off the top of the Billboard Top 100.)

A B C, It's easy as

1 2 3, as simple as

Do re mi, A B C, 1 2 3 [Client] you and me!

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