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.

Jo Miller

Jo Miller is a globally renowned authority on women’s leadership. She’s dedicated two decades to helping women advance into positions of influence by leveraging their leadership strengths. Based on her work with hundreds of thousands of women, she developed a pragmatic and powerful roadmap that guides women to become the leaders they aspire to be. Jo shares this proven process in her book Woman of Influence: 9 Steps to Build Your Brand, Establish Your Legacy, and Thrive (McGraw Hill, 2019.)

Jo is CEO of leadership development, consulting and research firm Be Leaderly. Learn more about her speaking engagements at www.JoMiller.com and follow @Jo_Miller on Twitter.

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