7 C’s of Executive Presence


According to Forbes magazine, there are 7 traits of executive presence all beginning with the letter “C”. They are:

Composure, Connection, Charisma, Confidence, Credibility, Clarity, Conciseness

What is executive presence?

In its simplest terms, executive presence is about your ability to inspire confidence:

  • in your subordinates – Are you the leader they want to follow?
  • among peers – Are you capable and reliable?
  • among senior leaders – Do you have the potential for great achievements (most important)


Composure – Are you calm and in control of yourself:

  • Self-awareness
  • understanding others
  • ability to control your emotions
  • recognize emotion in others and manage your response to them


Connection – Are you able to build and maintain rapport and relationships?

  • engage others when communicating and make them feel comfortable.
  • understand your communication style challenges and how to overcome them
  • understand how to read and adapt to the style of others


Charisma – Are you able to draw others to you? When communicating with others do they

  • feel that they matter to you
  • know that you are solely focused on them
  • not distracted by the many other things you could be doing at that moment
  • have strong listening skills and an ability to stay “in the moment.”


Confidence – the feeling or belief that one can rely on someone or something.  Communicate confidence both in what you say and how you say it.

  • Good posture is essential.
  • Eye focus – Only speak when making eye contact and manage your eye focus appropriately when communicating with more than one person — one thought per person.
  • Facial expression matches your message and that your voice has good pitch, volume, and pace. And of course, you must look the part.
  • Dress – Choose your wardrobe and accessories carefully.


Credibility – the quality of being trusted and believed in. When someone with strong presence speaks, others take note, and there is no doubt of the conviction behind their words.

  • Your content important. So is the language you choose to deliver your content.
  • Detractors include:
    • Bad grammar and typo’s
    • Filler language such as “um,” “uh,” and “so”
    • Minimizers like “just,” “sort of,” and “this may not be a good idea but…” Note: Minimizers give your audience permission NOT to listen to you.


Clarity: For you to exude presence, the ability to clearly communicate is fundamental. If your point is not clear, you lose any hope of commanding attention.

  • Ask yourself, “What is my message in 10 words or less?” If you can’t articulate it to yourself, you’re not ready to communicate it to others.


Conciseness: Being verbose kills presence. Just as it is critical to know what you want to communicate, you must be able to do it concisely.

  • Stay on point
  • Only expand on a topic with the content that your listener needs.


Executive presence is within your reach. I’ve seen many executives develop their presence with a little personal reflection, practice and coaching.

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