IW3I am a staunch believer in the importance of executive presence in the business world, and it has served me well. Since it will be one of the topics at my Aug. 28, 2015 Boomer business women conference, “Maximize Your Career – Business Tools for Women over 50,” at DePaul University/Naperville, I decided to join colleague Vicky Austin Tuesday for her monthly book review at Wheaton Public Library. Her choice was Executive Presence: The Missing Link between Merit and Success by Sylvia Ann Hewlett.

Sylvia’s basis for her book is that you can have the experience and qualifications of a leader, but without executive presence (EP), you won’t advance. EP is a combination of qualities that leaders project. Sylvia and the Center for Talent Innovation conducted a nationwide survey of college graduates working across a range of sectors and occupations, and discovered that EP is a dynamic, cohesive mix of three essential ingredients: gravitas, communication and appearance.

Sylvia helps you identify those qualities and how to exemplify them so that others perceive you to be a leader. For many people, it sounds easier than it is.


It’s word that I don’t use a lot so in case you don’t either, here’s a definition: “Seriousness or solemnity in demeanor or treatment, strength of character, self-esteem, confidence.” It may be difficult to describe yet you know it when you see it. It’s the most important of the three ingredients. Specifically, the author means:

    • Confidence and “grace under fire”
    • Decisiveness and “showing teeth”
    • Integrity
    • Emotional intelligence
    • Reputation and pedigree
    • Vision or charisma


Here’s Sylvia’s definition of what communication entails.

    • Superior speaking skills
    • Ability to command a room
    • Forcefulness and assertiveness
    • Ability to read others
    • Sense of humor and ability to barter


Sylvia shares that it is the least important ingredient, percent-wise, yet it is the one that can almost immediately cause people to think you don’t have EP.

    • Polished and well groomed
    • Good posture
    • Simple, stylish clothes
    • Fit and slim

EP is one of the three topics that will be covered in the “Promote Yourself Effectively over 50” panel at the Boomer business women’s conference Aug. 28, 2015. Other panel topics are using social media successfully and networking in the right places.


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