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Introduction

A Primer on Executive Presence

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SHORTLY AFTER THE first edition of this book was published in 2009, a senior talent management executive from pharmaceutical giant Merck called to inquire about our Executive Presence coaching programs. She and her colleagues had identified a group of internal leaders who needed to work on their executive presence, she said, and she wanted us to coach them. Then she paused for a moment and asked, “But . . . what is it?”

This reminded me of a now famous phrase, expressed in a written opinion by a U.S. Supreme Court justice in a 1964 pornography case (Jacobellis v. Ohio) about what is and what isn’t obscene material. “I know it when I see it,” Justice Potter Stewart wrote, conceding ...

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