Do you have executive presence?

When you are in that high-stakes meeting, sales presentation, interaction or conflict your executive presence is both emotional and physiological. Your thoughts are racing and your heart rate is escalating. People watch you. How do you execute at your highest level when the pressure is on?

Executive presence grows with confidence. We build confidence by intentionally challenging ourselves and regulating our emotions in the moment. That means you know the goal but focus on being your best without pre-occupation with the outcome of your performance.

You need to slow down your breathing so your focus moves from worry thoughts to following your breath. That clearing allows you to observe your behavior before emotions move you into fight-or-flight.

A prime athlete trains to win. When the game is played he or she isn’t focused on the score, just doing is best right now. If he or she gets frustrated, he or she is not at his or her best.

Self-confidence derives from two pivotal traits:

  • Self-esteem — how valuable you think you are to yourself and others.
  • Self-efficacy — your ability to execute that value effectively.

You know you have high self-confidence when you:

1. Do what you believe is right in the face of controversy.

2. Step outside what is comfortable to risk the unknown.

3. Have the humility to admit your mistakes and learn from them.

4. Don’t need outside validation because your internal satisfaction and self-acceptance are enough.

5. Give away the glory because the goal was a team goal and you’d have never achieved it without them.

6. Accept compliments graciously. “Thank you. I’m pleased you find it useful.”

7. Notice self-doubt and take action anyway as opposed to wait for perfection.

8. Can let go of something whose time has passed, especially when you have a lot invested in it.

You know you have low self-confidence when you:

1. Modify your behavior based on what other people think.

2. Play it safe, freeze when you feel judged, hold back because it “isn’t fair,” or “not the right time” and avoid risk.

3. Deny mistakes, cover them up, blame others or hope to remedy the problem before anyone notices.

4. Seek attention and recognition to validate your good work.

5. Brag about your virtues or take the credit for the work of others.

6. Dismiss compliments offhandedly because you don’t feel you deserve them or the attention makes you uncomfortable.



Build your self-confidence by noticing your thoughts and executing mindful choices in the moment.

Mindful practices that build self-confidence include paying attention to your breathing pattern for three minutes — “I’m breathing in. I’m breathing out;” writing two things you are grateful for each day in your Gratitude Journal; and making a conscious effort to smile and say, “hi” to one new person daily.

Confidence starts with you. It ends with excellence.


Mary Lee Gannon, ACC, CAE, is the president of, a consulting firm that helps people get off the treadmill to nowhere for optimal performance in the corner office. Mary Lee is an award-winning mindful executive strategist, ICF certified coach and author. She has 20+ plus years as a CEO leading organizations worth up to $26 million within 60,000 employee organizations as well as coaching executives on mindful leadership. When you connect your head to your heart purpose emerges, vision and strategic focus sharpen and you create a movement that draws people to your lead because they want the freedom you have.