“Everyone is getting promoted, and I am being left behind,” one of my clients told me a few days ago.

Why do you think that is? I asked her.

“I don’t know, but it’s starting to make me think that I need to look for a new job.” 

Would you rather start over somewhere else than develop your career at your current company?  Won’t you run into the same problems?

“I don’t know,” she said, “but I have to do something.”

I have this conversation often. Many of the leaders whom I coach are ambitious high-achievers, yet their careers are not progressing in ways they had hoped. Of course, it’s essential to have the ability to perform the job successfully, but beyond that, why does one person get promoted over another?

Most people who are not seeing the advancement they desire in their careers do not get promoted because of their derailing behaviors at work. They struggle with business relationships and have poor social or organizational awareness, and so they alienate their team, their peers, or their boss.  Most of the time they know that something needs to change, as my client did, but they are not sure what, and they assume that it is politics or that their boss does not like them rather than accepting responsibility for the role that they are playing in not getting promoted.

Each of these people has what is commonly called a “blind spot.” A blind spot obstructs us from seeing the behavior traits that can sabotage our success. Others see it, but we do not. The leaders we watch getting promoted and advancing in their careers have something else, too – they have developed their executive presence. What is Executive Presence?

It is the combination of behaviors and attributes that represent our ability to be effective, get results and manage perceptions, and that enables you to build a solid reputation as a leader. It’s NOT POLITICS – far from it. It’s authentically connecting with the people around you.

Executive Presence affords us the ability to maximize our own and other people’s performance to achieve business objectives. Leaders with Executive Presence execute successful organizational initiatives more often, and so they are promoted more often.

There are three elements of Executive Presence, and each represents an essential aspect of leadership: Character, Substance and Style.

Your character represents who you are, your values and what you believe, and how you behave. It includes the ability to build trust and foster goodwill by demonstrating personal qualities that include integrity, emotional intelligence, curiosity, courage, and perseverance. Self-Awareness and self-regulation start here.

Having substance is measured by what you offer to others, and it’s not just the ability to perform your job. Substantive leaders are willing to provide help to others in the organization regardless of department or role. They are well-liked and enthusiastic collaborators with practical wisdom. They understand the company culture, and they have built a secure network within it. They are also the go-to people in an organization.

Having style doesn’t just mean that you dress well, it’s that you take pride in how you look, and also your energy level, grace, and good manners. It is the tone you set when you enter a room and the acknowledgment that, as a leader, you are expected to be held to a higher standard. It is also the ability to contribute your opinions and demonstrate composure and self-confidence when participating in group meetings and during presentations or high-stake meetings.

The first key to developing your Executive Presence is to realize that it is all about Self-Awareness. How well do you know yourself?


Getting Started With Executive Presence:

  • Observe the leaders that you admire. How do they act in meetings, when presenting, or with a team?
  • Observe yourself in your day-to-day activities. What are you feeling, thinking, and telling yourself? What circumstances cause you to become uncomfortable, nervous, or unsure, and how do you behave when you are?
  • Have you received any feedback about your performance that will help you gain clarity? Ask a trusted boss, mentor, friend, or coworker for input about their perception of your strengths and talents, and think about it carefully. Have you heard similar feedback before?
  • Take a personal assessment. Which of the character traits of Executive Presence do you already possess? What attributes need polish? In what areas have you formed bad habits, and which have you not thought about before?
  • Select an area on which you would like to improve, and seek out classes and ideas. Share what you are working on with other people, and ask for help.

Become intentional and practice being your executive self in everything that you do, and eventually, you will become the person who is getting promoted.



Are you reaching your potential? SuccessView Coaching and Consulting Group empowers individuals to discover a new future for themselves at work and play. We believe that with coaching you can create the awareness to escalate learning, improve performance, and enhance the quality of life.

Through coaching, coaching for learning and development, mentoring, one-on-one, and group training we assist in building trust and increasing collaboration. We help individuals move beyond their personal or professional obstacles to help them achieve a better future.

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