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How to telegraph the three pillars of executive presence

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After two years of research, forty focus groups and a national survey, author Sylvia Ann Hewlett contends the three pillars of Executive Presence are:

  • How you act (gravitas)
  • How you speak (communication)
  • How you look (appearance)

All three work together to help you telegraph (signal) to others that you have what it takes and that you're star material.

"One thing to note at the start is that these pillars are not equally important--not by a long shot," explains Hewlett. "Gravitas is the core characteristic."

And according to the senior leaders that Hewlett researched the top aspects of gravitas are:

  1. Confidence and "grace under fire"
  2. Decisiveness and "showing teeth"
  3. Integrity and "speaking truth to power"
  4. Emotional intelligence
  5. Reputation and standing/"pedigree"
  6. Vision/charisma

In her new book, Executive Presence, she teaches how to act, communicate and look your best while avoiding the most common blunders in each of these three categories.

Hewlett is also a big believer in the power and value of having a sponsor, and explains that sponsors are not mentors.

"Sponsors are powerful leaders who see potential in you and, provided you give them 110 percent, will go out on a limb to make things happen for you. Because sponsors have a vested interest in how you turn out (your reputation now being linked with their own), they will give you the kind of feedback that mentors can't or won't," says Hewlett.

Hewlett is the founding president of the Center for Talent Innovation. Her book, Forget a Mentor: Find a Sponsor, was named one of the ten best business books of 2013 and won the Axiom Book Award.

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