It’s been said of Queen lead singer Freddie Mercury that when he took the stage, whether in a small club or arena in front of thousands of people, not a single individual was left unmoved by his presence. His presence was simply spellbinding.

This kind of presence, however, isn’t just important for musicians or artists. If you want to be a successful leader, the right education and the perfect resume just isn’t enough.

You have to have presence. And not just any presence, but executive presence. But, what does it even mean?

First things first, read the culture…

What does executive presence mean in your company? Look around. Who seems to stand out? Who carries themselves in a way that commands attention in a positive way? If you can understand executive presence in the context of your culture then you can start practicing and modelling the behaviour.

Executive presence is a trait that all aspiring executives know they need, but its definition is murky at best. Is it charisma? Is it grace under pressure? Will those in charge of your career path agree that you have “it”? If you’re deemed lacking in executive presence, you might miss out on a promotion or other work opportunities. Rather than leave things to chance and hope that you have what it takes, it’s smart for you to take proactive steps to build this important leadership element.

There are traits that professionals with strong executive presence display. And you don’t have to be the most gregarious or outspoken person in the room to demonstrate executive presence.

– Composure: Self-awareness and understanding others are essential components of executive presence. The ability to control your emotions, recognize emotion in others and manage your response to them is key.

– Connection. A connected leader is someone with high levels of self-awareness, someone who comes across as human, someone who is not afraid to be vulnerable. A connected leader collaborates with their team and encourages honest dialogue and input from them in return.

– Charisma. Charismatic leadership is basically the method of encouraging particular behaviours in others by way of eloquent communication, persuasion and force of personality. Charismatic leaders motivate followers to get things done or improve the way certain things are done.

– Credibility. A credible leader focuses on creating win-win situations for all. Credible leaders walk the talk and make their actions speak louder than their words – they deliver what they promise. Leaders with established credibility are respected and trusted.

– Consciousness. In its most simple form, conscious leadership is bringing one’s whole self and with total awareness to your leadership position…Conscious leaders focus on the “we” rather than the “me” and realize that their role is to create a culture of trust, care and expansive influence.

Executive presence is a winning combination of confidence, poise and authenticity. It is just as important as your skills and qualifications, and it will make or break attempts to land a promotion or secure a deal. That’s because your executive presence reflects whether you deserve the success for which you strive.