Can you be a horrible human being and have presence? Sure. Hitler, Caligula, Sadaam. Pick your poison. They all had "bad" presence of one kind or another. Serial killers have presence. You can be a miserable SOB and have presence. Bernie Madoff still has presence in prison.
You can drive yourself nuts reading about it all - executive presence, leadership presence and plain old professional presence. I'll keep it simple. After coaching 3000 men and women on Wall Street from CEOs to college grads, here's what I've observed from those who have what I call "good" presence.
They tend to:
- act like they belong wherever they are
- are fully engaged in whatever they're doing
- ask thoughtful questions and genuinely listen
- lead with respect, consideration and kindness
- guard their reputation by acting with integrity
- connect with people on a human level everywhere
- display unflagging passion, commitment and energy
- try to add value to every situation they participate in
- speak clear messages by talking with people, not at them
Finally, presence is developed from the inside out. A nice suit may only get you in the door. A presence based on values and substance can get you a seat at the table.