A Veteran's Guide to Developing an Executive Presence

As a veteran, you already hold yourself to a high standard. But making the transition to business often requires dialing up your executive presence. 

Executive presence conveys confidence, competence, and charisma. It’s that hard-to-define “X factor” that earns trust and respect.

Women Veteran at computer
Military Girl Thinking


This guide will cover tips to build your executive presence:

Mindset: The foundation of executive presence is a mindset of abundance. It’s essential to move beyond limiting beliefs, like underestimating the value of your veteran status. Embrace your worth confidently and focus on contributing value rather than seeking validation. Leadership should be about service, not ego.

Communication Skills: Effective communication is key. This involves speaking clearly and confidently, conveying your ideas succinctly, and listening attentively. Avoid long-winded or aggressive speech, support your statements with data, and respond directly to questions. Maintaining regular eye contact, adopting an open and grounded posture, and using appropriate voice modulation and gestures is vital.

Professional Attire: Dressing sharply can significantly impact your executive presence. Opt for professional business attire that is polished and well-fitted. Custom-made outfits, neatly pressed clothes, shined shoes, and well-trimmed facial hair can elevate your appearance. Establish a signature style that complements your body type and includes “power pieces” that boost your confidence.

Body Language: Your physical demeanor should project confidence and control. Stand tall with squared shoulders and a slightly tilted chin, and use firm handshakes. Purposeful gestures and a balanced posture, especially when seated, are important. Avoid fidgety movements or closed-off body language like crossed arms, ensuring your demeanor is always welcoming.

Making a Strong First Impression: Initial interactions are crucial. Engage with strong eye contact, a confident handshake, and repeat the other person’s name to remember it. Start conversations with a warm compliment or a relevant comment, remember personal details, and send follow-up notes after meetings. Prompt action on requests also helps in leaving a lasting impression.

Networking: Navigate networking events with confidence. Engage in strategic conversations and introduce yourself with assertiveness. Sharing personal stories can build rapport, and asking thoughtful questions can deepen connections. Always follow up promptly with new contacts and look for ways to add value to their endeavors.

Personal Branding: Your personal brand should reflect your mission, principles, and passions. Maintain a consistent identity across all professional platforms. Create a professional “uniform” that aligns with your brand, use symbols to narrate your story, and ensure your digital presence is impeccable. Also, display your achievements and memorabilia to establish your physical presence.

The Bottom Line: Building executive presence involves developing the right mindset, honing communication skills, presenting oneself professionally, and conducting oneself with confidence. This presence signals your capabilities as a leader deserving of respect and trust. You can amplify your impact as a leader by embodying confidence, competence, and charisma.

Let’s connect and develop a tailored plan to activate your inner executive and boost your influence.