Executive Presence Book Summary By Sylvia Ann Hewlett

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If you want to succeed as a leader, it's essential that you understand and develop the skills required for effective leadership.

For this reason, Executive Presence (2014) is an invaluable resource.

From attitude and communication to appearance, this authoritative book provides insights into what it takes to be an influential leader in today's competitive world.

With practical advice and examples of successful leaders, Executive Presence offers readers valuable tips on how to create a powerful presence that will help them succeed.

Additionally, the book presents a clear understanding of why certain behaviors can have a profound effect on one's career - something that many aspiring executives overlook.

All in all, Executive Presence is an indispensable book for those seeking meaningful guidance on creating successful executive presence.

Executive Presence Book

Book Name: Executive Presence (The Missing Link Between Merit and Success)

Author(s): Sylvia Ann Hewlett

Rating: 4.3/5

Reading Time: 17 Minutes

Categories: Management & Leadership

Author Bio

Sylvia Ann Hewlett is an internationally-renowned economist and business guru, as well as the founder and CEO of the Center for Talent Innovation.

She is well-versed in offering valuable insights on workforce dynamics, leadership development and executive presence - the subject of her critically acclaimed 11th book.

The title of this work is Executive Presence: The Art of Commanding Respect Like a CEO, and it's designed to help readers understand why executive presence matters so much in today's world.

It delves deep into key topics such as presenting confidently, commanding respect from your peers, grooming yourself for success and much more!

This book provides a much-needed road map to developing that special aura about yourself that sets you apart from the rest.

How To Cultivate Executive Presence And Lead Like A Rock Star

Cultivate Executive

Do you want to be a successful leader? You need more than just the right education and a perfect resume, you need to cultivate executive presence.

Executive presence is what sets great leaders apart and knowing how to embody this quality can help you get closer to achieving your goals.

In order to become better leaders, it’s important to understand that executive presence isn’t just important for musicians or artists – it’s also important in the business world.

It can be seen in chief executive Bob Dudley’s use of gravitas, which saved BP from disaster.

To hone your skills as a leader, you must get out of your comfort zone and consistently strive for self-improvement.

This might involve working on removing any verbal ticks that could be holding you back from excelling in public speaking or mastering communication strategies such as active listening and assertive dialogue.

Discover how to become an even better leader by developing executive presence!

Having Executive Presence Is Essential To Succeeding In Any Field

If you want to ascend to the highest levels of success, it’s essential that you develop executive presence.

Believe me, it makes all the difference between a top-level professional and an average one.

Take a person’s journey in the Concert Artist Guild’s international competition for instance.

Out of an immense pool of performers, only twelve will make it to the final round – but what separates one finalist from another is less about technical ability and more about presence and performance.

Richard Weinert, president at the Guild, revealed that much of this comes down to how someone walks across a stage with confidence; or how their clothes are cut; or even their body language and facial expressions throughout their performance.

But executive presence applies far beyond just music performances.

Studies show that when people watch silent videos of pianists competing at international events, those viewers can identify winners solely based on their level of executive presence!

The Center for Talent Innovation also conducted a survey where they analysed and mapped out the key traits that make up ‘executive presence’.

These three pillars include acting with gravitas, communicating effectively and presenting yourself professionally in terms of appearance.

No matter your profession if you want to aspire to success then honing your executive presence should be top priority!

How To Show Gravitas In A Crisis: Stay Cool, Calm And Confident Under Pressure

Gravitas, or the ability to exude courage and confidence, is a central component to executive presence.

This can be seen in many of America’s most difficult moments over the past decade, from the dot-com bubble to 9/11 to fraud scandals and other economic catastrophes.

In times of crises, it’s those leaders who are able to project integrity and remain strong through uncertain waters who have what it takes to make a real difference.

As much as half of all senior executives surveyed by this author agree that gravitas is key when it comes to making an impact in the business world.

Just think back to the oil spill disaster of 2010-BP was held responsible for the damage done and their then-managing director, Bob Dudley, showed up for interviews with poise and hustle.

He wasn’t afraid of answering any tough questions or admitting fault-in stark contrast, his predecessor Anthony Hayward had famously said “I’d like my life back,” creating a major public relations mess for BP in his wake.

Dudley was able to handle himself with grace under fire, displaying true leadership potential in a situation that could have easily gone awry.

Regardless of how daunting the situation may seem, it can be incredibly rewarding (and beneficial) for your career to demonstrate gravitas during moments of crisis-it shows your superiors exactly what you’re capable of handling and proves why you deserve their respect!

The Right Balance: Being Compassionate And Decisive Are Both Part Of Gravitas

Right Balance

Great leaders understand the importance of finding a balance between decisiveness and compassion.

It’s not about being perfect, but rather about understanding when to be tough and when to have empathy.

This is what sets great leaders apart from those who are only seen as ruthless decision-makers.

One example of a leader demonstrating this balance was Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, who made the bold decision to require all employees to work from company offices, despite pushback from some members of her community.

While many people – such as former GE CEO Jack Welch – applauded her decision, others like Richard Branson of Virgin Group condemned it as a step backward.

Despite differing opinions, Mayer showed the courage and resolve necessary for effective leadership – which in turn earned her gravitas.

It’s not just making difficult choices that make a good leader though; it’s important for them to take into account how their decisions will affect those around them, too.

This means exercising emotional intelligence by showing both self-awareness and situational awareness; having empathy for those impacted by your decisions as well as understanding why certain decisions may be unpopular with certain groups or individuals.

In other words, great leaders should strive towards achieving a balance between decisiveness and compassion in order to lead effectively.

Gravitas: How To “Walk The Talk” And Enhance Your Executive Presence With A Pleasing Voice

When it comes to establishing executive presence, strong communication skills are absolutely essential.

A 2012 analysis of financial spokespersons showed that passion, voice quality and presence were the deciding factors in choosing a persuasive speaker, not content alone.

In other words, it’s not all about what you say but how you say it.

People with excellent speaking abilities often signified genuine leadership traits in the eyes of their peers and colleagues.

The author of this book found through interviews that those lacking executive presence used verbal tics such as inarticulateness, poor grammar and overuse of filler words which undermined whatever they were saying.

He also pointed out that shrill voices can be especially off-putting to others, like when women raise the timbre of their voice when they feel emotional or defensive.

But there is good news!

It turns out that modulating voices in an optimally pleasing tone–125 Hz–is an easy way to make sure your speech commands attention.

As scientists discovered at Duke University, we humans are hardwired for a lower frequency tone anyway, meaning our ears will always pick up on those sounds more readily than a higher pitched one.

Therefore if you can learn to speak with greater control over your pitch then it will help tremendously in executing effective communication skills- and ultimately having stronger Executive Presence.

Commanding An Audience: How To Find Your Executive Presence In Five Seconds Or Less

If you are looking to be an executive that has presence, it is essential to learn how to read and command a room in order to convince any audience.

As Suzi Digby, a British choral conductor points out, one only has five seconds to make an impression on the audience and make a connection between themselves and their listeners.

To do this you must show yourself as completely human without oversharing personal details with the audience.

It is important not to look like you need the approval of other people since that could put the power dynamic in their favor.

The key here is keeping your presentation simple by providing bullet points instead of branching off into stories.

Ronald Reagan was bestowed the title “The Great Communicator” because of his entertaining storytelling ability.

Additionally, being aware of the cultural cues around you and adjusting your communication styles accordingly is incredibly important for successful communication which in turn leads to strong Executive Presence.

For example when Rohini Anand had to convince her firm’s top leaders about involving external experts in sensitive workforce issues she changed tact midway through her presentation after sensing her audience didn’t want a detailed research process.

She just gave them a short summary of the benefits of bringing on these experts which ended up working in her favor!

The Power Of Appearance: Using Grooming To Enhance Your Executive Presence


If you’re serious about establishing executive presence, you must be polished and groomed.

According to respondents in the author’s survey, appearance isn’t quite as important as gravitas and communication skills when it comes to building authority in the workplace, but what your appearance signals still matters.

Those around you will instantly form an opinion of your credibility and trustworthiness based on your physical presentation — and if it doesn’t exude confidence and competence, it can be difficult for people to take you seriously.

As D’Army Bailey, a lawyer who walked with Martin Luther King Jr., put it: “It’s all about looking good so people listen”.

Of course, there are different ways of looking put together depending on each person’s style, but there are some universal tips you can apply to ensure that your appearance won’t distract from your performance.

Grooming is vital — it should emphasize, rather than detract from your professional capabilities — so do the necessary research and practice good grooming habits.

It signals self-control and respect not only to others but also towards yourself!

Boost Your Executive Presence With Wellness And Appropriate Clothing

Research has proven that people who are perceived as more attractive are often more successful in their career; they receive more job offers, higher salaries and better verdicts in court.

However, this doesn’t mean you can’t achieve great success and signal your ability to excel in a leading role if you don’t have the movie-star looks nature gave them.

In short, having an executive presence comes down to taking care of your body well.

This means getting adequate exercise for both strength and endurance to make sure climbing stairs isn’t a struggle so that you can maintain a high degree of confidence required of those at the top.

Having a healthy diet is also important to keep your waistline trim and BMI low so people don’t question your level of discipline and self-control.

Likewise, clothing is crucial when it comes to establishing an executive presence too.

Make sure your clothes fit perfectly—neither too tight nor too loose—and that it’s appropriate for the situation so as not to send out the wrong message or make you look either unknowledgeable or unprofessional.

With these fundamental elements in place, you’ll be well on your way to a well-deserved leading role in no time!

Wrap Up

The final summary of Executive Presence Book is that executive presence is a combination of confidence, poise and authenticity.

It’s just as important as your skills and qualifications, and it will make or break your attempts to land a promotion or close the deal.

Improving one’s executive presence is possible with continual feedback from superiors in order to assess body language, speech, delivery, command of the room etc.

It will be beneficial if you focus on recent encounters that required considerable executive presence and narrow down the questions for specific feedback.

This way you can get the maximum benefits from refining your executive presence.

Arturo Miller

Hi, I am Arturo Miller, the Chief Editor of this blog. I'm a passionate reader, learner and blogger. Motivated by the desire to help others reach their fullest potential, I draw from my own experiences and insights to curate blogs.

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