how to develop executive presence

Ten Things: Building Your Executive Presence In-House

When it comes to “executive presence,” I now have the benefit of being older with more than a few gray hairs.  As a result, a lot of people (my wife, daughters, and assorted dogs and cats excluded) tend to pay attention to what I say and even seek out my advice.  But, it wasn’t always this way.  I was a young, clueless in-house lawyer once.  I was also self-aware enough to know it.  And I knew that at some point in every in-house lawyer’s career, to move up the chain (or show your value), you need to find a way to project executive presence without the help of Father Time.  I suspect many in-house lawyers hear this at review time, i.e., “To progress here you need to improve your executive presence” or something along those lines.  Unfortunately, that’s usually about the extent of discussion – it was for me.  Just some amorphous criticism without clear guidance about what exactly you’re supposed to do next to bag this elusive unicorn.[1]  Sadly, there is no class in law school on the topic and you cannot order executive presence from Amazon (at least not in the USA).  Instead, it all becomes a weirdly frustrating process of searching for something where you often have no idea where to look or what it looks like.  Like searching for truffles in Nebraska.  Ironically, you can often look around you and see people that “have it,” i.e., they seem naturally gifted with executive presence – you know it when you see it!  But that does most of us little good.  The good news is that it is a skill (or, rather, a set of skills) that can be learned and honed over time.  This edition of “Ten Things” provides you with a road map to develop the key skills necessary to build your executive presence: