“Executive presence” is a term used in marketing executive search that separates A-players from one another as they all reach the senior level. It’s often thought of as a trait that a person possesses and that comes naturally: you either have it, or you don’t. While executive presence comes naturally to some, it is a skill set that can [and should] be developed, not a trait. In simpler terms, CMO executive recruiters will tell you that executive presence needs to be something you work on as you grow your career.
Within our marketing executive recruitment agency, recruiters are constantly working with executive-level candidates. Interestingly, some candidates that have already served in an upper-level management role fail to understand what it takes to possess executive presence. Therefore, in this post, we are covering the basic understanding of what “executive presence” is and why it is crucial to perfect this skill set.
To put it simply, executive presence is the ability to inspire confidence in others. Marketers want to know that their leader has a vision and knows how to best execute it. The humility and confidence you display should motivate your team and your executive peers, convince them that you have solutions to achieve great results short-term and long-term. At the senior level, you will not be able to impact change without executive presence.
MarketPro’s CMO executive recruiters name these key components among the essentials to developing executive presence:
The ability to show empathy for those around you is a critical soft skill. Do you remember the name of everyone on your team? Do you know their kids’ names? Can you engage them in a personal dialogue? This will make all the difference when you need them to jump in the trenches and put in extraordinary effort.
Your attire does not create an executive presence. However, it can be the first thing that takes away your credibility. First impressions still matter and if you want to inspire others’ confidence in you, dress one level up from the job you are in.
Actions speak louder than words (and suits). Body language shows others how engaged you are in the conversation without a single sentence. Experienced marketing executive recruiters will tell you that direct eye contact and straight body posture show the interviewer that you are confident and experienced in the subject of the conversation.
Marketers with developed executive presence communicate their thoughts effectively. The confidence and tone in the way you speak gain the respect of listeners in the room. To become a leader, you must be able to convey any idea with authority and without filler words or excessive pauses. This will give the other people assurance that you are the person they want to follow. However, there is a fine line between sounding confident and coming across as arrogant or self-absorbed. An arrogant person will repel those around them just when they need their support the most. Listen to what others have to say and try to understand their point of view. The skill of listening is also an important ingredient of executive presence. A compelling leader can listen and understand just as well as speak and convince.
Being an expert does not mean you can wing it. Top executives take time to prepare for every major interaction they have. This will set yourself up for success. Whether it’s a meeting or an interview, you should know what the conversation is about and understand the “why” of the topic. You must be prepared. It’s hard to sound convincing or experienced without knowledge of the subject. Preparing answers to questions that could possibly come up is a great strategy to ensure success. If you are heading into an interview with CMO executive recruiters, check out our video library to be prepared for various scenarios and interview types.
Executive presence is a skill set that is not acquired overnight. It is built over the years of experience and practice. It’s much more complex than the key basic elements listed above. It’s also by far not the only credential marketing leaders need to advance their careers, but it’s an absolute must-have that we as the top CMO executive recruiters are looking for in the early stages of candidate vetting. If you cannot demonstrate executive presence in your first conversation with a marketing executive recruitment agency, you are not likely to get a chance to interview, even if your resume and experience stand out among other candidates.