“You have to be yourself, but you have to pay attention to the audience that you’re working with,” explains Stewart Hirsch, managing director and business development coach. The issue with talking broadly about concepts like executive presence is that everyone has a different definition for what executive presence entails. The initial ideas for executive presence applied primarily to white men, but today’s professional environments are much more multicultural and diverse. Today, Stewart Hirsch and Deanna Sheridan, Vice President and legal advisor, discuss executive presence and inner confidence.

Effective leaders exude executive presence and they do that by letting their inner confidence shine through by finding ways to be relatable to their target audience. They have to be open to being authentically themselves, yet tailor their approach to who they are interacting with. When people feel psychological safety at work, they are more likely to show up as their authentic selves. It’s really difficult to feel confident when you are trying to hide portions of yourself from your colleagues. And when leaders lead by example and are authentic with their team members, then the rest of the team feels more comfortable being authentic as well.

Inner confidence takes time to develop and it can still be scary to put your authentic self forward, even in a psychologically safe environment. When you can read the room and adjust your actions and words based on your audience, that can help to increase not only your confidence in yourself, but also your colleagues confidence in you as their leader.

“Executive presence is just a label to define somebody’s perspective on power and influence.” (6:156:21 | Deanna)
“It was crucial for me to learn from somebody else how to approach these conversations when I needed to adapt to what my audience needed to hear, because I couldn’t put myself in their shoes.” (15:4916:03 | Deanna)
“You have to be yourself, but you have to pay attention to the audience that you’re working with.” (18:2018:25 | Stewart)
“The shift to get that confidence is helping the person recognize that they’re absolutely capable, they’ve done it before.” (40:4040:50 | Stewart)