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Own the Room

“She made broken look beautiful

and strong look invincible.

She walked with the Universe on her shoulders

and made it look like a pair of wings.”

--Anana Dancu

Executive Presence is quite often the topic of my executive coaching sessions. Leaders have discovered that they are not as influential as they would like, and they want to develop a reputation for confidence in their business acumen and gravitas. Hence, my reasoning for this article. Where should one begin? There are six elements of executive presence according to Jim Karwisch, CIO at dumoreimprov. He recently shared them with me during a Business over Breakfast at Emory University's Goizueta Business School. It is a lot to learn but it should be if you want to truly "own the room." Maybe most of you already have a few in your tool chest!

  1. Gravitas - the signal to others that you are leadership material, and you project both credibility and confidence.

  2. Communication - the masterful usage of what you say, and when you say it in clear and concise verbal speech as well as non-verbal cues.

  3. Substance - competence in the industry and the ability to communicate it in a compelling, inspirational manner.

  4. Appearance - you project the image of a leader in your style and dress.

  5. Receptive Listening - you are open and willing to listen and learn,

  6. Emotional Intelligence - you are self-aware, calm, and empathetic when engaging with others.

The leader who demonstrates executive presence is both competent and exudes warmth. Stoic in times of chaos but gentle and kind when the situation demands. To be influential, some of the elements above are learned behaviors that will take a little practice. There are simple ways to remind oneself of the soft skills necessary to command attention without being controlling. For instance, think of a person you know who demonstrates the elements of executive presence. Model your behavior to theirs, and before long it will become a habit to stand a certain way or speak with affluence, or dress and walk with poise. We can all certainly learn "style and manners," but receptive listening and masterful verbal and non-verbal cues might need consistent practice. It doesn't need to be an elusive leadership trait. With just a little practice and some simple reminders of self-awareness, we can lean into captivating our audiences every day.


Eckstein Executive Coaching Institute is a subsidiary of Admission Network, LLC working virtually everywhere to create success for leaders, 10.12.22.


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