We have all been there: another conference room, another meeting with the team. This time though, the boss is here. It’s weird, though… the conversation is moving forward in a way it doesn’t when they’re there. There’s an intentionality, a focus, a dogged persistence on what matters. Why do we work this way when the boss is here but throttle back when it is just the team?

What is it about the boss? They’re always prepared. They got to the heart of my presentation in moments, though it took me hours to create. They just asked a question I should have seen coming. The question was neither pedantic nor tedious, simply illuminating, straight-forward and blunt. I care a lot about this business and success, but he seems to care about it at a higher level—it’s different.

What’s different about executives? We’re all dressed the same, but I realize we’re not. No matter what, his slacks and shirt are crisp and seem brand new; his shoes are always shined. Their suits seem tailor-made for fit, and they seem to always be a match for the situation. They’re perfectly comfortable and perfectly professional at the same time. Do they ever have a bad hair day?

What is the ‘it’?

It’s a simple question: what makes an executive an executive? They don’t become someone else when they get the title – they seem like they’ve always had ‘it,’ whatever it is. Executives have this it factor, but intuition tells me it is more than a matter of just what they do.

Executives have a way of being. Every executive is different, of course, simply as each is their own person. Yet, watch the executive in their native habitat. Observe how they deal with problems, opportunities, politics, and colleagues. Pay attention to on what they have their attention. Notice their stature, their presence, how they carry themselves and how they interact with others.

Executives are different. They aren’t like everyone else. We’ll continue exploring what makes an executive an executive in our next blog.

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