Executive Presence with Mary Lee Gannon


Mary Lee’s Remarkable Life


Mary Lee Gannon, ACC, CAE, is a certified executive coach, leadership expert, author, and founder of her own custom coaching business, MaryLeeGannon.com.  With other 19 years of experience in the corporate world, Mary Lee brings a wealth of knowledge and insight to her work with clients.

As is the case for many people, Mary’s career hasn’t been a straight line. Following her divorce, Mary’s life as a stay at home mom of young children dramatically changed. They had gone from country clubs to food stamps, and Mary was forced to answer the question, “Is this what I want for my family?” Knowing she wanted more from life, Mary entered the corporate world and made strategic career decisions that led her to the C-suite and being president of a $24 million company. Now, her full-time job is still as a CEO, and her passion project is coaching other executives to set them on the path for success.


Intentional Living


So often, people wait for life to happen to them. But in reality, we create life by design. Mary’s focus in her coaching practice is on helping clients get rid of the limiting beliefs they have about the possibilities for their life and careers, and encouraging them to build the life that they want for themselves.

Often in the workplace, it can seem as if outside forces are holding us back from achieving our goals. Other, less qualified candidates are receiving promotions over those with the character and skills to succeed. But you do have the power to change this instead of simply lamenting that the world is unfair.  The key difference is what Mary has named executive presence. You must work on how to have presence by stepping into your confidence. When you have achieved presence and also possess good leadership character, you have the winning combination.


The Struggle


If having executive presence were easy, everyone would be doing it.  The challenge is one most people face every day – regulating your emotions.  The work then that one must do is building self-awareness.  As adults, most people are aware of and fearful of the consequences of unregulated emotions, and so a natural response is to hide your true self for fear of a misstep. To move past fear and internal criticism, though, you must practice mindfulness to objectively observe yourself and your emotions, but not beat yourself down.  Regulate yourself without judgement so you can move past your limiting beliefs.


Whether it’s the result of evolution or socialization, it is a fact that men do not struggle with this internal conflict as much as women do. The average man won’t think twice about applying for a job he’s underqualified for, while a woman will worry herself out of applying for a job she’s overqualified for. Whatever the cause, we see that women are much more risk-averse than men.  Mindfulness around one’s fears and anxieties allows you to name the feeling that’s holding you back and in doing so, disarm its power.


Dos and Don’ts of Executive Presence


So what is executive presence and how do you achieve it? Fortunately, there is a clear answer to this! No magic tricks or chicanery, just simple hard work and self-awareness.


What kills presence:

  • Erratic temperament: You can easily picture that one boss who loses their cool, raises their voice at the drop of a hat, or stews until they boil over. Whatever the behavior, it’s unprofessional and makes people lose faith in you.
  • Uptalk: Uptalk is a style of speech where every sentence, including statements, ends with a rising inflection, making everything sound like a question. To assert your confidence, make statements declarative instead of seeming unsure.
  • Not accepting your limitations: An important part of presence is the combination of certainty and humility. Be comfortable admitting what you don’t know and asking for others’ input.


The must haves:

  • Be known for getting it done: You should be someone other people can rely on to figure out what needs to be done and accomplish the task.
  • Dress and appearance: Your wardrobe doesn’t need to be full of designer clothes, but your appearance is an important part of presence. Make sure your clothes are clean, tailored, sharp, and fit in to your work environment.
  • Good relationships across departments: Don’t silo yourself inside your team. Create relationships with key stakeholders in other departments, and value you their opinions.
  • Command attention: You know it when you see it in others – posture, carriage, tone of voice. It’s about not allowing your internal doubts to sabotage you and knowing you belong in the room.
  • Entering a conversation gracefully: Social etiquette should have already taught you not to interrupt, but a person with presence will also not speak simply to be heard. They will often be the last to speak, and will ask a question. This Socratic method shows others that you think before giving an opinion and practice critical thinking.
  • Foresight for problems: A successful leader can anticipate challenges and opportunities before they arrive on your doorstep. You will demonstrate presence to others when you see the problem coming and aren’t afraid to say something about it.




So much of what defines executive presence may be concepts already familiar to you, but these skills are rarely taught in professional development classes and trainings.  Mary’s unique style of coaching focuses on helping you interact with other people from a place of confidence. To achieve presence, you must have an awareness of yourself and understand how to best to position yourself based on your strengths and weaknesses.

If you feel stuck in your career path, please visit Mary’s site to set up a free phone consultation to discuss if Mary can help you. She also has available brilliant resources to help you work through your limiting beliefs that fit into your busy lifestyle.

To hear more about Mary’s story and her wonderful guidance on executive presence, listen to my latest podcast featuring Mary Lee Gannon. If you are looking to take your career to the next level, my EFT for Business Entrepreneurs course can help you succeed. To see a full list of my online courses available, click here.

For questions or information about counseling and therapy, feel free to contact me, Joan Kaylor by email at joan@joankaylor.com or visit joankaylor.com.