You have probably heard colleagues make comments about the executive presence of certain leaders. If so, take a minute to think about whether your colleagues are truly on target.

The term executive presence is tossed around quite a bit regarding someone’s positive impact in meetings and other business situations. It is misleading. Why?

From my experience, executive presence is a misnomer. Although this concept is important for any executive, the core of the issue is not the executive part, since presence is not restricted to the executive level. Furthermore, referring to this quality simply as presence is not enough. A leader can just as easily have a presence that is detrimental to his or her effectiveness.

As I explored the concept of leadership finesse, I discovered a finesse essential that is more fitting. It is not merely presence, nor something demonstrated at the executive level. It is conveying a measured presence regardless of where someone sits in the organizational hierarchy.

Conveying a measured presence is more than polishing your image or evaluating the impression you make on others. It allows you to confidently address whatever you encounter in a resolute manner, and it affects the way you carry yourself. How?

Your frame of mind and outward demeanor work in combination. In addition to considering your individual outlook, you identify the external context in which you are operating so you can determine how measured to be. In some circumstances, you might need to use a velvet glove approach. Some situations might require a steel hand. In other settings, something in between these two would be an optimal strategy.

In order to convey a measured presence, exceptional leaders use a personal guide to remain calm and collected in any scenario. This guide is their core values and beliefs which enables them to stay true to who they are along with what is important to them.

The capability to convey a measured presence is an asset to have in your leadership repertoire, especially when you are under pressure such as dealing with an impending deadline or managing a major organizational change. As you seek to enhance your proficiency in this finesse essential, consider these questions:

  • How much does your appearance impact your ability to convey a measured presence?
  • What communication styles are needed?
  • When do candor and conviction become important?
  • What does composure look like for you?

For more information about conveying a measured presence, check out:

The Finesse Factor: How to Build Exceptional Leaders in STEM Organizations


Ryan Lahti is the managing principal of OrgLeader and author of The Finesse Factor: How to Build Exceptional Leaders in STEM Organizations. Stay up to date on Ryan’s STEM organization tweets here: @ryanlahti

The Finesse Factor by Ryan Lahti

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