Have you ever encountered someone in business who captures the attention of a room the moment they walk through the door?
Someone who has an air about them that draws you in and whose authority you immediately trust when they start speaking?
These people have what is called Executive Presence. Though it’s difficult to define exactly what Executive Presence is, many successful leaders and professionals are considered to have a sense of composure, poise, charisma and humble confidence. They’ve also been described as portraying sound leadership qualities such as gravitas, credibility and efficiency.
Sylvia Ann Hewlett's book 'Executive Presence - The Missing Link Between Merit and Success' , summerised in an article by Huffington Post, lists the three key ingredients to executive presence as gravitas, effective communication skills and an award-winning appearance.
In the book she says,
"In our survey senior executives told us that appearance is inconsequential - only 5% identified it as the most important factor in EP. This is deceptive. The fact is appearance is a critical first filter"
In another article by Forbes Magazines, it was also brought to light that developing an executive presence may be a more challenging task for women leaders.
Considering this challenge facing women, I’ve put together some tips for developing an executive presence through one of the three key ingredients; appearance. These tips will also help you strengthen your personal branding and corporate image.
Outfit Building and Intentionality
One way to enhance your executive presence is by dressing with intention. If your style appears to be intentional yet effortless, you’ll immediately portray a sense of put-togetherness. I’ve spoken before about the power of first impressions and nothing does a better job of pulling positive perceptions than a well-built outfit.
Having a wardrobe that’s made up of the right neutral tone basics, will allow you to get dressed and put an outfit together every morning with ease. You’ll be able to start each day on the right foot, with no stressing over what to wear, which is a waste of head space and energy that can be put to better use.
Finding the Right Fit
I’ve written quite a bit about the fit of your clothing - from Igoring the Size on the Label, to Fit Solutions for all Body Types. This is because the fit of your clothes is possibly the most important factors affecting a good personal style and projecting a great business image.
The way your clothes sit on your body affects not only your overall appearance, but your confidence too. If you’re walking into a meeting full of executives, your seniors or even new clients, you want to be sure that you’re feeling comfortable and composed. Pulling on a blouse that’s too low-cut or a dress that is too tight can distract you from putting your best self forward and distract those around you from paying attention to your message too.
Having an outfit that’s tailored to fit your body will leave you feeling self-assured enough to focus on exuding an executive presence.
Staying On Top of Personal Grooming
I’ve also recently explored the Importance of Personal Grooming. The power of manicured nails, professional looking make-up and well-maintained hair are not to be underestimated.
Having your personal grooming in check will boost your self-confidence, helping your personal impact levels at the same time. It’s all in the details and although hair, nails and make-up may seem like small factors in the grand scheme of your overall presence, these three points can make or break your personal image.
Research undertaken by the Centre for Talent Innovation found that,
"'grooming and polish' was chosen by more respondents than 'physical attractiveness' or 'body type' as a key contributor to EP",
confirming that it's not about what you are born with, but what you do to make the best of yourself that counts.
Having items in your wardrobe that are of a high quality will go a long way towards enhancing your executive presence.
When shopping and building your wardrobe, I encourage you to always opt for quality over quantity. I also advise you to aim for an understated style, with majority of your items being neutral tones and simple pieces. You can always add new flair to simple outfits with a unique statement piece that shows your character or expresses your individuality. One of my favourite ways to do this is by adding colour with a stylish pair of colourful shoes.
The tips mentioned above are a great place to start working on your executive presence, however I understand that not all leaders are style-minded and most professional women struggle to find time to dedicate to their personal style and business image. If you’re looking to strengthen your corporate image to aide you in developing an undeniable executive presence, my personal style consultants and I can help you.
Get in touch with me today and let’s chat about your personal and professional goals. You can book a phone consultation with me here.
Lizzie Edwards is the leading personal stylist and image consultant in London, working with women over thirty five on their business image and personal brand.