Executive Presence: The Missing Link Between Merit and Success
by Sylvia Ann Hewlett
Executive Presence is a ceiling shattering, wall breaking, behind the power curtain look into what makes or misses the mark for men and women trying to standout in their organizations. Sylvia’s open and friendly style invites you into a cozy discussion about “getting what it takes” to get noticed but quickly leads you on a powerful journey of “using what you already have” to get to where you want to be. I went in ready to read a high level academic review on “standing tall & speaking clearly” but instead got a jolt of fire in my bones. She has a way of communicating that challenges, inspires and provokes all while encouraging you that the goal is within your grasp.
From the opening Executive Presence (EP) definition to the skillful use of stories, she lays out a rock solid case and compelling argument for what is needed from employees to reach and organizations to reach out to the talent within its own ranks.
“Executive Presence is… An amalgam of qualities that telegraphs that you are in charge or deserve to be.”
“It signals to others that you have what it takes, that you’re star material.”
Sylvia’s crystal clear understanding on the corporate environment for people of color, women, and other marginalized groups is nothing short of refreshing. I never thought I would read truth bombs like these in a book highlighted on Harvard Business Review.
My 3 Word Review was,”Eye Opening, Resourceful.”
Sylvia breaks down Executive Presence into three areas: Gravitas (Confidence, Grit, Charisma), Communication (Speaking Skills, Ability to Read a Room) & Appearance (Polished, Grooming).
Chapter after chapter is extremely practical and honest.
On gaining Gravitas – “In a crisis you can lean into the wind, acknowledge your shortcomings, and rise above them; or you can take cover. You can acquire gravitas, the cornerstone of a real leader. Or you can demonstrate that, no matter what your actual title, you really don’t deserve to be in charge.”
“Executive Presence is not necessarily about being formal or abundant in your communication, but rather straightforward and brief.”
On the double standard for women in the workplace – “A man is viewed as a strong personality if he is arguing a point, whereas a woman arguing the same point is viewed as a [witch] and heartily disliked.”
Executive Presence is an immediately useful resource for anymore looking to improve their value and presence in their organization.