The “Secret Sauce” Leaders Have and How You Can Get it, Too

You’ve probably heard that part of what it takes to get promoted at work, advance in your career, and inspire others to follow you is having “executive presence” or “leadership presence.” But what does that actually mean?

Years ago, I was invited to speak on this very topic at a leadership conference for a Wall Street investment bank. In a planning call with the conference sponsors, we discussed the talking points I was going to cover.  “You should start with a definition of leadership presence,” one of them suggested, making me pause. It had seemed so obvious until I was asked to put it into words—but I couldn’t think of one.

In a moment of minor panic, I stalled by asking the four leaders on the conference call to describe how they would define leadership presence. Silence ensued. They seemed as stymied I was!

“Is it like charisma?” asked one. “And you either have it or you don’t?”

Then, one of the youngest managing directors spoke up. “Leadership presence is almost impossible to define,” she said, “but we all know it when we see it.”

“Bam!” I thought to myself, and went so far as to ask her if I could use those very words as my opening definition for my conference session. For she had put my own feelings about leadership presence into a succinct non-definition: impossible to define, but we know it when we see it.

Read my article for The Daily Muse.

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Jo Miller

A leading authority on women’s leadership, Jo Miller is a sought-after, dynamic, and engaging speaker, delivering more than 70 speaking presentations annually to audiences of up to 1,200 women. Her expertise lies in helping women lead, climb, and thrive in their corporate careers. Jo has traveled widely in Europe, North America, Asia Pacific, and the Middle East to deliver keynotes and teach workshops for women’s leadership conferences, women’s professional associations, and Fortune 1000 corporate women’s initiatives. Jo is founding editor of BeLeaderly.com. Learn more about her speaking engagements at www.JoMiller.net and follow @Jo_Miller on Twitter.

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