Developing leaders with executive presence is about helping them to understand what motivates, enriches and energises them. There are different approaches to doing this, for example you can encourage them to focus on developing substance through stories. Alternatively, you can teach them to fuel their communication by focusing on key character traits of leadership.

Character is the sum total of you: your values, beliefs, talents, and formative experiences. A combination of all the intangible qualities that make you uniquely you. These are a person’s internal motivators; they energise and make work and life meaningful. In developing executive presence, it helps to focus on six character traits in particular:     

1. Authenticity

When a person is authentic, an audience trusts and likes them, making them more willing to buy into that person’s ideas and to be influenced by them.  We all want to be seen as intelligent and expert professionals in our fields, so people trust us and our ideas but if we focus too much on “being professional” we sacrifice authenticity and our personality disappears. The things that make us most interesting, and most like ourselves, are hidden under the mask of the perfect business persona. This is what some might call an “empty suit” and it causes trust to disappear. The people we work with don’t fully trust us because they can sense we don’t fully trust ourselves. Being authentic is about being “true to one’s own spirit, personality, or character” and the more you explore and express your own experiences, the more authenticity you project.

2. Empathy

The ability to empathise with people helps drive powerful connections at work. It can build that crucial level of trust and emotional engagement that makes for  success in business as leader. Having empathy is being about being able to see the world as others see it, with understanding and without judgement. Leaders with executive presence are able to use empathy to communicate in a way the audience understands and build excellent rapport with all of their connections.

3. Integrity

Integrity is about always choosing to do the right thing no matter what, and doing it for the right reason. Leaders with integrity have a set of morale’s, values and principles to which they are highly committed, regardless of the consequences. Integrity is an admirable quality which makes a leader trustworthy and dependable.

4. Confidence

Confidence is an essential quality in any good leader and is especially important in leaders with executive presence. Others will not have confidence in you, if you do not have confidence in yourself and your ideas. Having confidence and self-esteem is not a skill, but a result of one’s behaviours. When we stand tall, we feel taller. When we bring positivity to others, we feel positive about ourselves. Our Confidence and Self Esteem Training has step by step processes that will help you to achieve greater confidence and self-esteem for increased executive presence.

5. Composure

Composure is the ability remain calm and collected, especially if faced with uncertainty or if put under pressure. As a leader, you are constantly sending out signals to those you lead and it’s important to send out the right signals even if there is a problem. Leaders with executive presence are able to remain in control of their state of mind in any situation enabling them to act rationally and sensibly in response. Composure is often projected as confidence and will be reflected back in others.

6. Assertiveness

Being assertive isn’t who you are; it’s what you do – we all assert ourselves in different ways, depending on the situation. Assertiveness is often associated with being aggressive but this is a misconception. Being assertive is about being constructive and emotionally intelligent, expressing legitimate opinions, needs and feelings, without hurting the feelings of others. Leaders with executive presence are great at being assertive. To be assertive you should treat people fairly and communicate well to avoid conflict, build confidence and enhance relationships. Our assertiveness training course will give you a deeper understanding and help you to master this difficult skill.

Working on these six character traits will help you to become an inspiring, influential and authentic leader who exudes executive presence. Which one will be your focus this month?

For more information, take a look at our complete guide to leadership skills.

Phone icon

Speak to us


0800 389 2639

New York

+1 718 421 0200

Hong Kong

+852 6025 1101
Gender inequality at work
Email Icon

Email us

Get in touch with our dedicated team to discuss what we can do for you.