Executive Presence — Do You Have It?

Michael Veltri Executive Leadership Keynote

How do you define “executive presence”? When I was in the Marine Corps, we called it “command presence”. One officer in particular who I worked for, Major Mary Harbac, exemplified this leadership trait to a “T”. One of my early sales managers and mentors, Richard Giebel, also embodied this principle in an amazing, effortless fashion.

What do both Major Harbac and Richard have in common? Did they scream, threaten, and intimidate like the crazed Marine drill instructor in the movie Full Metal Jacket or Alec Baldwin’s foul-mouthed sales “guru” in Glengarry Glen Ross?

No. Both had that elusive ability to inspire everyone around them to perform at — and beyond — their personal best not because everyone had to, but because everyone wanted to. I’ve personally witnessed both Mary and Richard positively impacting not only subordinates, but also superiors and fellow colleagues, with their preternatural executive presence.

What about you? How do you lead and inspire your team, family, or friends even? Using force, guilt, or rewards (do “this” and I’ll give you “that”, or, DON’T do “this” and I WON’T give you “that”) does little more than produce a half-ass, temporary result at best.

So if you are looking to expand your leadership range, try these three simple action-steps to strengthen your executive presence “muscle”:

Get Into Action Now:

1. Lead by example: Physically model the behavior/action/speech you want your team to emulate. If you expect “all hands on deck” to achieve your quarterly business goal, then you better be the “first one in and last one out”.

2. Listen more. Talk less: Be completely present when you are with your team/family/friends. Put down your smartphone and give your undivided attention. Maintain eye contact and ensure you have open, trustworthy, and positive body language.

3. Be generous with acknowledgement: This is not to be confused with thanking your team or praising them for a job well done. That is a small part of it. Acknowledging someone leaves the listener knowing deeply that they have been fully seen, heard, and understood.

Practicing these three steps is a good start to developing your own executive presence. Soon, you can be leading your team with effortless strength and authentic motivation while inspiring everyone around you to perform at, and beyond, their personal best not because they have to, but because they want to.

If you have any questions on the action steps listed here or have any other innovative ways to develop executive presence, please post a comment below or hit me up on Twitter @mpveltri . I’d love to hear from you!

And if you liked the ideas presented here, please take a look at my website where you can find more information on my dynamic business leadership keynote speeches, breakout sessions, and peak performance consulting: https://michaelveltri.com/keynote-speaker