Impact of Executive Presence
for a manager


There are various approaches and definitions of executive presence, and M-J has chosen the one by Bates & Weighart (2) because it takes into account the dimensions relevant to an individual's evolution in the different phases of his or her life, while considering how an individual transacts and is perceived by others at work. Bates has created the only measurement tool recognized as being scientific, well adapted to corporate reality, and also by the fact that it and the definition of executive presence are improved as they are used and as leadership needs evolve. 

Bates definition:

"Executive presence is the ability to influence, engage, align, mobilize and inspire people to action." The authors describe these capabilities in three dimensions: character, substance and style. Each of these dimensions is further broken down into 5 (five) behaviors:

  1. Character is built on authenticity, integrity, concern, restraint and humility;
  2. The substance required: practical knowledge, confidence, composure, resonance and vision;
  3. Style involves appearance, intentionality, inclusiveness, interactivity and assertiveness.

According to a systematic review of the literature published between 1983 and 2020(3) on the subject of executive presence, regardless of the author, popular and scientific literature considers executive presence to be an essential element of leadership , and the results of research by HCI's Talent Pulse (1) corroborate that high-performance organizations, in general, identify and measure the skills and capabilities that are essential to successful leadership. This study reports that over 50% of HR professional respondents think executive presence is difficult to define, but 80% say they recognize it when they see it. Professional influence is most often cited (85%), followed by interpersonal skills (76%) and technical competence (23%).

Synonyms: X-Factor, C-Speak, C-Suite Communication, Leadership Presence, Presence

Bates and several other authors assert that executive presence is an essential element for being a successful business leader and for achieving strategic results, I quote this research published in 2019 by the Psychological Association, The Goldilock Approach to Team Conflict: How Leaders Can Maximize Innovation an Revenue Growth(4). The author links revenue growth to the ability to constantly innovate and to create a psychologically safe and healthy environment; two factors identified as contributing to business health and sustainability.

Leaders who were able to increase sales knew:

  • Align the team around a common cause and set of values,
  • Create a safe environment that encourages reasonable risk-taking, and
  • Facilitating and defending healthy debate.

These leaders knew how to model the assertion of their own opinions in a way that encouraged discussion and hindsight. They didn't just facilitate the discussion of issues; they framed open, honest debate, accepted challenge, while controlling the potential for conflict to discover and implement what was needed to grow their organizations.

Although a definition and target criteria are essential to measuring executive presence, and there may be different (in-house) methods of measuring it, very few organizations seem to find it relevant to do so, except for high performers (1).

Also according to HCI (1)they urge HR managers to assertthat using executive presence as a qualifier or disqualifier in talent identification, without precise definition or measurement, is not a fair or valid practice.

Different ways of being, approaching a situation differently or having a different style that suits the leader better doesn't necessarily mean that he or she is less talented - they may simply be more true to themselves or authentic. There's a fine line between adapting to the culture and behaving authentically, so we need to create the conditions for the work environment to be more accepting of different ways of being, while at the same time clearly stating performance expectations, regardless of gender, personality, culture or religion.

Executive presence needs to be developed with a clear definition and guide to serve as the basis for this development. That's why, in the absence of a definition or measurement tool integrated into the organization, M-J recommends using Bates' definition (2) and integrate a methodology that will enable the leader to strategically discover his or her path to executive presence.

M-J also chose to use the four (4) phase framework developed by a researcher, Kerns (6) which allows us to keep an eye on the whole development process, even if it takes place over several months or even years :

The four phases are :

  1. Define and evaluate,
  2. Affirm and understand,
  3. Optimize and integrate, and
  4. Measure and evaluate.

Also, we must not forget to consider the negative side of executive presence. With alarming rates of managerial ineffectiveness, it would be naïve to think that, in practice, executive presence only serves a positive gain. This is why M-J will make sure to highlight what can lead the developing leader to act negatively towards self and others, or positively towards self, but negatively towards others.

According to a 2019 Harvard Business Review article, Education the Next Generation of Leaders (7), companies spend a lot on executive training, but often get little return on their investment. Anecdotal evidence on skills transfer suggests that just 10% of the $200 billion spent annually on corporate training and development in the US produces tangible results. That's a staggering amount of waste. More to the point, it reinforces the urgent need for those responsible for corporate training and executive development to rethink their learning experiences. Business schools and other traditional educators are not always equipped to teach the soft skills essential to success today, and leaders are often unable to apply the lessons they learn to their work.

The path suggested by this article lies in a "personal learning cloud", providing access to a wide range of online courses, interactive platforms and digital tools from both traditional providers and new entrants. The PLC (Personal Learning Cloud) is transforming leadership development by making it easy and affordable to obtain personalized, socialized, contextualized and trackable learning experiences. This need for accommodation towards a different way of learning is also highlighted in The Future of Jobs Report 2018.

Validating through experience the conclusions drawn in the 2019 Harvard Business Review article, Education the Next Generation of Leaders (7), M-J guides and accompanies the leader using his or her expertise and various other resources to maintain the interest and motivation of your next generation. MJ will ensure that the leader applies the lessons learned in the workplace:

  • M-J transmits its own field of expertise (IE and Leadership training) while accompanying leaders in their work environment (coaching & mentoring),
  • Targets external resources (videos, readings, coaching) that will meet the specific needs identified with the leader, supplemented by follow-up with M-J


  1. HCI (Human Capital Institut) Talent Pulse, Executive Presence: Desired but not ill-defined (Proprietary research from HCI)
  2. Bates, S., & Weighart, S. (2014). Executive presence: The X factor in employee engagement. In Employment Relations Today. Bates, Executive Presence Index ,BTS ExPITM
  3. According to systematic literature review (Universidade Nove de Julho), Article in Brazilian Journal of Development - April 2022
  4. Psychological Association, The Goldilock Approach to Team Conflict: How Leaders Can Maximize Innovation and Revenue Growth by Michael Seitchik, The Psychologist - Manager Journal, 2019, Vol.22, No.1 1, 37-45
  5. The Future of Jobs Report 2018, World Economic Forum,
  6. Kerns, C. D. (2019). Leadership presence at work: A practice- oriented framework. Journal of Marketing Development and Competitiveness, 13(3).
  7. Harvard Business Review, Education the Next Generation of Leaders, Gaps in traditional executive education and creating room for approaches that are More tailored and democratic. By Mine Modoveanu and Das Narayandas.
  8. Yannick Farmer, full professor of communication ethics at UQAM, research published in 2022, Prudence, Ethics and Anticipation in Visionary Leaders.