Right now, the buzzword for female advancement in the workplace is executive presence, a desired trait for certain leadership positions. But for many women, that concept brings up a good deal of questions. What does executive presence mean exactly? Are you born with it or can you acquire it if you don’t have it? Who determines if you have executive presence or not?
The fact is that executive presence is itself a pretty elusive concept, one that is more in the eye of the beholder than anyone would admit. At its worst, it’s used in the expression, “He/she doesn’t have executive presence” when selecting a candidate for a top executive position, which is code for, “The candidate doesn’t look like the executives currently serving in our organization,” which in turn is often code for, “The candidate is not a middle-aged white man.” So saying that someone lacks executive presence is often nothing more than a way of saying that they don’t fit the leadership mold in that company.
In this situation, the first question you should ask yourself is how much you need or even want to fit the mold before you go about changing your style. In some cases, not fitting the mold is actually good. If the organization is looking for someone with a different experience and perspective, having a diverse background or a style that’s unlike that of the reigning executive pool works to your advantage. The next question you must ask yourself is if executive presence is a requirement for the type of role you’re interested in —for example in finance or human resources. Continue Reading the Article
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But if, at critical points in your career, you’ve heard the feedback that you lack executive presence, you might want to consult with trusted advisors on ways you could develop a bit more. The truth is, no one is born with executive presence, but there are some basic traits on which to build the executive presence required to lead. Some things you can learn – such as maintaining eye contact, speaking with clarity, controlling your body language. But others – such as inspiring confidence, intelligence, and making snap decisions that are consistently good ones – may be more a function of your psychological makeup and not something you can pick up from a coach.
If you want to be a leader in your organization, however, it’s critical to hone your executive presence to attract the attention of those who can offer you the right opportunities. So take this quiz and find out if you already have the kind of executive presence needed to be promoted to the highest levels of a company, and what else you could do to refine what you’ve got.
Should you find out that you lack some of the characteristics that are inherent requirements of a person in a leadership role, you can redirect your career path towards one that better aligns with your internal assets. And if you still want to pursue a leadership role, one option might be to seek a leadership role outside of a large corporation where certain rules apply. There are many successful women making a huge impact in all sorts of organizations where they can channel their interests and valuable talents.
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