Do you dress for success?

Consider these observations from Robin Kawakami and Allison Lichter for the Wall Street Journal: “Leaders: You know them when you see them. Leadership roles are given to people who exude ‘executive presence‘: Individuals who look and act the part, according to a 2012 report issued by the Center for Talent Innovation (CTI), based on a survey of nearly 4,000 college-educated professionals. Promotions are not just a function of skills and aptitude, the CTI report argues. Executive presence is ‘a required yet unwritten’ competency for leaders. The survey found that male and female senior executives who participated in the survey estimated that executive presence constitutes one-quarter of what it takes to get promoted.”

According to Kawakami and Lichter: “Executive presence is made up of a trio of qualities: appearance, communication, and gravitas. The most important of these is gravitas, the report finds, which is communicated by the way one speaks and acts; it signals to colleagues that you’re someone worthy of being heard and followed.  Demonstrating grace under fire, decisiveness, and the confidence to “speak truth to power” — speaking up even when it’s politically unfavorable — all convey an individual’s gravitas. Communication, another marker of executive presence, involves the ability to speak directly, and to convey not only the substance of your ideas, but a sense that you should be listened to. Clarity and assertiveness in speech and commanding a room are important elements of strong communication. Body language, another critical element, works differently for men and women, according to the CTI report. Women need to be especially vigilant about body positioning: sitting in the front of the room when their position demands, not placing a hand in front of their face when seated at a table, and standing with legs straight and shoulders back. Appearance ‘opens the door and gets you invited in,’ the CTI found.  Good grooming — looking polished and put together — mattered most to the survey’s respondents. The survey found that 83% of senior executives believe that ‘unkempt attire’ detracts from a woman’s executive presence, while 75% of senior execs believe it detracts from a man’s.”

Click the image to read more from the Wall Street Journal.


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