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Executive presence: We know it when we see it

Why and what is executive presence, and why is it important?

Over the last 18 months, I participated in a series of one-day regional symposiums incorporated into the Women, Influence & Power in Law framework. This initiative, known as Project 5/165, is designed to provide tools that aid women in-house counsel on the path to becoming general counsel in Fortune 500 companies. In breakout sessions, participants role-played a business simulation with sitting general counsel acting as a CEO. The topic of “executive presence” came up in almost every session, and no one could define the term with precision.

Why executive presence?

Developing executive presence

First, learn about it. An Internet search will reveal a number of resources. One comprehensive resource is a study produced by the Center for Talent Innovation (CTI) in 2012 entitled Executive Presence. The study defines executive presence in three categories: Gravitas (confidence, decisiveness and integrity, among others); communication (speaking skills, command of a room and more); and appearance. To order it, or the more recent study Cracking the Code: Executive Presence and Multicultural Professionals, go to

Stewart Hirsch

Stewart Hirsch, Esq. Managing Director of Strategic Relationships LLC, is an executive and business relationship coach for general counsels, lawyers and other professionals. Formerly, Stewart was...

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