24 Sep

Executive Presence: Do You Really Have What It Takes To Boldly Lead?

Want to leverage a competitive edge to eliminate the competition for a top job and your shot at the C-Suite? Develop your leadership presence and you’ll automatically rise above the pack to be the cream of the crop.

You don’t have to take my word for it.

Hundreds of senior executives were recently polled by the Center for Talent Innovation, a New York-based think tank. Incidentally, their research partners included American Express, Bloomberg, Ernst & Young, and Goldman Sachs.

What did they have to say? They agreed that executive presence accounts for more than 25% of what it takes to get promoted into a leadership position.

Taken another way, that means that unless you exude genuine executive presence your chances of winning a prized leadership role are only three out of four, tops. Those are not good odds, especially in this economy.

The study focused upon this trio of traits:

#1 Gravitas, or the ability to project confidence, poise under pressure, and decisiveness

#2 Communication, which comprises excellent speaking skills, assertiveness, and the ability to read an audience or situation.

#3 Appearance, looking polished and pulled together.

Why those characteristics in particular, you ask? They are the three key elements that define the perception that someone possesses executive leadership presence.

  • One of the more profound findings was that 83% of those surveyed said that an unkempt outward appearance detracts from a woman’s executive presence, and almost that many said the same thing about men.
  • Nearly 60% also said that “sounding uneducated” detracts from executive presence.
  • The results also highlighted the fact that minorities such as females and people of color in leadership positions can boost their chances of advancement significantly if they display executive presence.

Too many high potentials are limited by glass ceilings in one form or another, and that infuriates me. But executive presence can be learned and developed, and I have seen the positive impact that it has had on so many of my own clients. After working with me they shattered those invisible barriers and finally achieved what they had been denied – plus so much more!

What is that highly sought after and somewhat magical quality we call executive presence? I see it as an energy or charisma that is made up of a number of special ingredients.

  • Those include communication and presentation skills, and the ability to command a room – no matter who is in it.
  • Appearance and authenticity are key, as is having a unique signature style and voice that influences others as soon as they encounter you.
  • Put it all together and people want to follow you as soon as you enter their midst, because you have the certainty, confidence, and gravity that instantly distinguishes you as a natural leader.

Where does that quality come from and how do you get it? At Illustra we believe that executive presence starts with self-discovery and is rooted in a healthy and vibrant self-image. Either you have it or you don’t. Those who do, however, never lose touch with it because they carry it inside 24/7, into every facet of their gracefully balanced and extraordinarily rewarding lives.


As a pioneering and visionary innovator, Sarah is a certified professional image consultant and brand strategist, speaker, trainer and author. Her company, Illustra Consulting, provides leading-edge image and brand management strategies for top leaders and high achievers who wish to take their career to the next level. She also delivers innovative and inspiring corporate workshops to assist large organizations in strengthening their corporate brand.

Illustra Consulting
Copyright © 2013, Sarah Hathorn, AICI CIP, CPBS

1-800-267-3245, [email protected]
This article may be reproduced only in it’s entirety, including the above bio.


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Sarah Hathorn
Sarah Hathorn, CEO of Hathorn Consulting Group, is the go-to-expert in working with leaders and companies to create successful corporate DNA. As an executive coach, consultant and speaker she collaborates globally with clients and brands such as Kimberly-Clark, Sherwin-Williams, Home Depot and other leading organizations.
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Copyright © 2020, Sarah Hathorn, All rights reserved.
800-267-3245, [email protected]

This article may be reproduced only in its entirety, including the above bio.
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