Want a Promotion? Don’t Underestimate Executive Presence

Jill had been passed over for a promotion again and she was mad. She was tired of Joseph taking credit for her work and was indignant about her boss holding her down. She knew her work was topnotch, and that she had a positive impact on the IT department’s budget and reputation.

The Hard Truth

Let’s get one myth out of the way: Doing a great job is not enough. That alone won’t earn you recognition or a promotion. Jill had the great work product, but failed to understand her bosses’ priorities, took things personally, and did not know how to persuasively assert her ideas. She undermined her own presence in meetings by dressing in worn, sloppy clothes, telling herself it was the quality of her work that counted most.

What Jill needed was a grasp of executive presence, and to think more strategically. According to a Harvard Business Review article by Joshua Erhlich, founder of the Global Leadership Council, you don’t have to be born with executive presence; it can be developed.

Traits of the Best Men and Women in Leadership

How well do you rate on these leadership traits?

  • Confidence born of credible expertise and the ability to think on your feet
  • Communication that’s fluid, concise, and compelling
  • Non-verbal communication that conveys confidence, gravitas, engaged listening, and empathy
  • Personal dress, grooming, and presentation that denotes professionalism
  • Exemplary work habits, such as being prepared and on time for meetings
  • Ability to influence, inspire, and lead
  • Strategic, innovative thinking that provides a sustainable competitive edge

New Strategy Yields Results

Jill and I chose a few key areas of priority in our coaching. She took an inventory of her wardrobe and started wearing tailored blazers over skirts or pants that fit her style, yet made her look more pulled together. She came to meetings prepared, and realized that she had been inadvertently signaling resentment and projecting a poor attitude. She started communicating proactively with her boss about strategies the team could take to improve workflow with other departments, while enhancing the quality of output. Most importantly, she went out of her way to pitch in on priority requests from senior management and spoke up publicly about what she could contribute.

At her next review, her boss commented on the positive changes and noted he was not the only one who had noticed. In fact, the leader of another department tapped Jill for a promotion which meshed with her skills and goals.

Jill learned the power of executive presence which affords her career satisfaction now and into the future.