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Executive Presence: The Missing Link Between Merit and Success Hardcover – June 3, 2014

4.2 out of 5 stars 98 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“A solid guide for those looking to take their career to the next level” (-Publishers Weekly)

“Sylvia Ann Hewlett’s book is essential reading for anyone striving to minimize the gap between how others perceive you and how you want to be seen. Executive Presence will transforms careers and unleash a current of previously untapped potential on the world.” (Joanna Coles, Editor-in-Chief, Cosmopolitan)

“This is a powerful and urgent book for young professionals climbing the ladder. Credentials alone will not get you the next big opportunity, you also need Executive Presence - the ability to signal confidence and credibility. ” (Sallie Krawcheck, Business Leader, 85 Broads)

“Sylvia Ann Hewlett has taken some of the mystery out of the claim that “you just don’t have what it takes” in this groundbreaking book on Executive Presence. This book provides a simple guide that will help you crack the code to career success.” (Katherine W. Phillips, Paul Calello Professor of Leadership and Ethics, Columbia Business School)

“Sylvia Ann Hewlett has put together the complete play book for high potential employees eager to develop the executive presence skills that will propel them to the top. In this book Hewlett explains what EP is, and how to get it. It’s real, pragmatic and brilliant!” ('Tiger' Tyagarajan, President and CEO, Genpact)

“In this significant book, Sylvia Ann Hewlett challenges the conventional wisdom that executive presence is an innate quality that can barely be defined, much less developed. Anyone seeking to close the gap between their merit and their success could benefit from her practical, engaging, and humane advice.” (Kenji Yoshino, Chief Justice Earl Warren Professor of Constitutional Law, NYU School of Law)

“Sylvia Ann Hewlett is once again leading the way by examining a critical component of business success, Executive Presence. She is a master at making a vague topic clear. She demystifies the meaning of Executive Presence and provides tangible, practical advice that readers can easily use to lift their game.” (Anré Williams, President, Global Merchant Services, American Express)

From the Back Cover

Do you exude confidence and credibility? Can you command a room? Sylvia Ann Hewlett, one of the world's most influential business thinkers, cracks the code of Executive Presence (EP) for men and women intent on winning the next plum assignment and doing something extraordinary with their lives.

You might have the qualifications to be considered for your dream job, but you won't get far unless you can signal that you're "leadership material" and that you "have what it takes." Professionals are judged on presence as well as on performance. 

Using a wealth of hard data—including a new nationwide survey and dozens of focus groups—Hewlett reveals EP to be a dynamic mix of three things: how you act (gravitas), how you speak (communication), and how you look (appearance). She also draws on in-depth interviews with a wide selection of admired leaders to reveal how they embody and deploy key elements of EP. 

This book is immensely practical. Hewlett teases out tactics that can help you raise your game and close the gap between merit and success. She offers the unvarnished advice you won't get from supportive friends and tackles head-on such touchy subjects as too-tight clothing and too-shrill voices. She shows how the standards for EP vary for men, women, multicultural, and LGBT employees, and she shares how to get meaningful feedback from politically correct bosses intent on avoiding the real issues. 

The good news is that EP is eminently teachable. You can learn how to "show teeth" while remaining likable, and you can teach yourself how to dress appropriately while staying true to yourself. You don't have to be born with the voice of James Earl Jones or the looks of Angelina Jolie to hurdle the EP bar. With hard facts and vivid examples, Hewlett shows you how to ace EP and fully realize your unique potential—no matter who you are, no matter where you work.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: HarperBusiness (June 3, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062246895
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062246899
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (98 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,897 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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By John Gibbs on June 5, 2014
Format: Hardcover
It turns out that becoming a leader and doing something amazing with your life hinge on what makes you different, not what makes you the same as everyone else, according to Sylvia Hewlett in this book. Executive presence is a measure of image rather than performance; it is the manner in which you signal to others that you “have what it takes” to be star material.

So, what is it that coworkers and bosses look for when they evaluate an employee’s executive presence? The author and her research team at the Center for Talent Innovation used a survey and focus groups to discover the answer, and they found that executive presence rests on three pillars:

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

Of these three ingredients, gravitas is said by senior leaders to be by far the most important, followed by communication and then by appearance. However, appearance and communication tend to be significant factors in assessing a person’s gravitas. Projecting confidence, displaying “grace under fire”, tone of voice, body language and eye contact are all important ingredients of gravitas.

A tall, well-built, white male has an unfair advantage in establishing gravitas when compared with women, people who are overweight, people of other ethnicities, and members of other minority groups. Much of the book is taken up in discussing how these cultural prejudices can be overcome. The author is of the view that the best results are achieved by accentuating the strengths that make you different from the white alpha male, rather than by trying to pretend to be a white alpha male.

This book is useful for anyone who feels that they would like to enhance their executive presence, but it is also useful for managers and leaders who need to have their preconceptions challenged so that their workplaces can experience the benefits of greater diversity.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I initially hesitated to purchase this book, since I have a scepticism towards most of the self-help/management genre. I am very glad I picked this book up. It brims with pragmatic advice on the essential topic of Executive Presence. This book is not just for those pursuing positions of power in corporate board rooms. It is for anyone seeking to translate their hard earned merit into just rewards and career progression.
Hewlett artfully balances personal reflection and anectode with relevant case studies and hard data to provide a credible and highly readable volume. She does not shirk from the tough issues faced by many in developing their executive presence.
I came away from the book with a number of practical ideas that I incorporated into my engagement with stakeholders and the board level. Early indicators show encouraging results!
I also found the sections that specifically addressed women to be extremely valuable. As a male responsible for the professional development of female team members, these insights will enable me to support them more effectively and be a better sponsor in terms of their progression. And yes, I have recommended the book to them as important reading.
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Format: Hardcover
Those who have read one or more of Sylvia Ann Hewlett's previously published books (notably When the Bough Breaks, Off-Ramps and On-Ramps, Winning the War for Talent in Emerging Markets, and Forget a Mentor, Find a Sponsor) already know that she is among the most intelligent, sensitive, intuitive, and practical business thinkers within subject areas that range from talent evaluation to organizational transformation. Her focus in her latest book, Executive Presence, is of special interest to me because, for more than 30 years, I have worked with corporate clients to help accelerate the development of talent needed at all levels and in all areas of their operations. I am already well aware of the importance of what she characterizes as the three pillars of executive presence (EP):

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

Fair or not, more often than not, candidates for a position who have less merit but greater EP have a decisive competitive advantage over candidates with greater merit but lesser EP. "The amazing thing about EP is that it's a precondition for success whether you're a cellist, a salesperson, or a Wall Street banker." Hewlett wrote this book to help her readers "crack the EP code." Although doing so "can be onerous and sometimes eats into your soul, this work and these struggles will allow you to flower and flourish. Once you've demonstrated that you know how to stand with the crowd, you get to strut your stuff and stand apart. It turns out that becoming a leader and doing something amazing with your life hinges on what makes you different, not what makes you the same as everyone else."

I agree while presuming to add that many people (I among them) have never been comfortable with developing EP.
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Format: Hardcover
Whether you're aware of it or not, every time you interact with people they're performing a mental calculus on whether you're someone they'd want to take into the foxhole with them. Are you trustworthy? Seasoned in your judgment? Inclined to protect your team? What this book makes clear is how many ways we signal our "leadership readiness" in just about everything we do or say, and even in what we wear or call attention to in our appearance. Hewlett helps us decode what highly effective leaders do, that we might emulate them, but also reveals what WE do that speaks volumes about our courage, competence, and credibility. You'll become conscious of blunders you've made (the first step toward not repeating them); and you'll understand just how, starting tomorrow, you might solicit better feedback so you can start amping up your EP. Incredibly helpful stuff, even for veterans of the corporate battlegrounds.
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