Executive Presence Can Look Like This: “This is a gift, Dad.”


Our first study highlighted common development areas among our LeaderMom panelists. Executive presence was an area of focus for 6 in 10 LeaderMoms. In addition, the women who strongly agreed that they benefitted from leadership development also pointed to executive presence as an area of personal growth (76% compared to 59% overall).  

Executive presence is to a combination of skills all leaders, male or female, strive to achieve. In my work as a coach, executive presence can be both a legitimate development area and a flag that bias might be in play (e.g., women being too much or too little, not looking like the image of what an executive at a given level looks like in someone’s unconscious mind).    

So, I wanted to share this example from Kelly Fredrickson, our Executive in Residence, of what it looks like to make executive presence your own. In her post below, watch for the following…

  • Emotional Presence (composed under stress, skillful with aversive emotions, not overly reactive, listening, mindful decision making, alignment of emotional tone to message being communicated)

  • Interpersonal Impact (able to command of a room, emotionally aware of how the other person feels, knowing it’s not just about you)

  • Communication Presence (clarity, asking the right question, saying just the right thing with just enough words at the right time, deductive reasoning, bottom-line focus) 

  • Physical Presence (embodying the brand, gravitas, posture)

  • Behavioral Presence (acting with authenticity and integrity relative to one’s values, strength, bravery, doing the things that add value and need doing)

Kelly’s example is a gift. Yes, she is a president whose calendar is crazy full. And this is the thing that she prioritized that day. In my mind, hers is a powerful example of what mindful, authentic, wholehearted executive presence as a LeaderMom can look like.



Written by: Kelly Fredrickson

On February 12, 2019, I picked my parents up at the airport.

The plan was to go to my Aunt’s funeral/memorial service. She was a force. Beautiful, funny, creative, fearless, mouthy and a true tid-bitter of information. You only ever got whatever she thought you needed. (To my husband Dave... Hon, It’s genetic, the tid-bit mentality is hard-wired into my DNA).

As we pulled into my driveway we got the call that the service was cancelled because of the storm. My Dad was sad, this was a moment to say good-bye and it felt like a loss on top of a loss.

But. I now had an entire unscheduled day with my parents. I softly said: This, Dad, is a gift. We have a whole day. Let’s see what we can do with it.

Because I had thought I would be driving to/from and attending the entire afternoon service with my parents, I knew that no one at work would expect my presence. I knew that I would be fully supported in spending the day differently with my parents. So I did.

We went home to my house. Built a fire. Watched the storm. Called my sister Maria and her wife Becky to come over. My Mom made bread. I made my Dad a BLT for lunch and some Congo bars. Later made an amazing dinner. And my youngest son Troy came off the bus to a living room full of hugs. It was a spectacular day.

This morning I woke up super early so I could drive into the city and prepare for a meeting. For Christmas someone gave me a set of cards with words and quotes. I keep it next to the Gratitude Jar. I went toward the jar to grab a piece of paper and write about my gratitude for that unexpected day with Ken and Judy. Instead I pulled out one of the cards. It said. FREEDOM. And, also, “If you had no limitations and could not fail, how would you live your life?”

Exactly like yesterday was my thought. I would live everyday liked I lived yesterday. Choosing to say Yes to the open invitation of a day that started out with a very different plan. Resisting the urge, saying No, to diving head-long back into work even though it could all wait until the next day. And it did!

I would live with the freedom of choice, to choose what has the highest value.  Yesterday, I got to be with my parents in an unhurried, unplanned, easy way. And at 78 and 80 this April, I know just how precious that is and am so grateful I was able to do it. 


Kelly Fredrickson,

LeaderMom Executive in Residence & President, MullenLowe Boston

Kaitlin Hershey