Executive Presence

The Center for Talent Innovation states that executive presence is the most critical factor for success and promotion today in business.It is no sur...

The Center for Talent Innovation states that executive presence is the most critical factor for success and promotion today in business.

It is no surprise then that Arcadia Consulting has dedicated a whole program to it. But what does it mean to have executive presence and how do we, as individuals, understand our own style and adjust it so it is received in the most effective way?

Clinical Professor of Leadership at the Kellogg School of Management, Brooke Vuckovic, stated “Executive presence is equal to credibility plus ease, all divided by ego. What executive presence does is it measures your capacity to translate out all your creativity, all your good ideas, all of your deep expertise.”

To help us grasp this idea, we consider the following three factors:

  1. Gravitas - How you project your energy when in certain situations, how you feel, and how that shows up. Are you able to project a sense of composure and alertness regardless of how your day has been so far? Regardless of what you are feeling on the inside.
  2. Physical Command – How you physically present yourself. How do you use your hands? How do you sit, are you slouching, sitting back in your chair? Or are you unable to keep still, constantly fidgeting, unable to keep eye contact? How are you breathing?
  3. Communication - How you sound. The way you speak, your speed, your tone, your volume.

Interestingly, most people think that gravitas and/or communication are the two factors deemed most challenging. It is common to get hung up on the way we speak and the words we use: "am I eloquent enough, do I sound interesting? Do I even sound like I know what I am talking about?". However, our research shows that physical command is the area that people trying to achieve a strong presence, struggle with most.

The way you speak, and your energy levels are affected by the way you sit, the way you stand, and the way you breathe – all these elements will have a profound effect on your presence. Mindful breathing is unlikely to be a foreign concept, so if we were to ask you, is breath important if you want to stay calm and collected? We would likely receive a resounding yes! But, if we then asked, do you consider your breath when you are, interviewing for a position, presenting to the board, or pitching a proposal? The answer’s probably going to be less resounding.

So, how do we now take these concepts of gravitas, physical command, and communication and put them into practice to improve our overall presence?

At Arcadia, we like to use tools and models in our workshops to help illustrate different concepts and appeal to varying learner types. Our executive presence program is no exception. Arcadia’s S.A.F.E model helps us to understand the different mechanisms we need to employ to harness our executive presence. The model focuses on four key areas:

S (State): Mastering your personal expertise and learning how to maintain a professional image, displaying a confident and assertive persona in any environment

A (Anchor): Control the direction of the conversation and gain approval of senior executives through body language and word skills

F (Flex): Mobilize your emotions and enhance cross-cultural communication ability E (Engage): Attraction, audience identity, the TED talk approach

Another model we refer to when talking about executive presence is Patsy Rodenburg’s Three Circles of Presence. This model elegantly illustrates how your gravitas, physical command, and communication all work to allow you to demonstrate an interest in your audience whilst also being able to think on your feet and remain engaged and calm.

Your presence and the way you show up are a crucial part of creating your legacy and what you want to be known for. It is the reason you will or will not get where you want to be. Whether you are presenting to the board or interviewing for your next position, understanding how to show up will make the difference not just to the outcome, but to you personally.

If you would like to find out more information on Arcadia’s executive presence program, please watch our free taster session below, or email us at hello@arcadiaconsulting.com.


  • Center for Talent Innovation, now Coqual The Latest Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Research - Coqual Patsy
  • Rosenburg-The power of presence
  • Executive Presence with Mark Albas: Executive Presence with Mark Albas