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November 1, 2012

Do You Have Executive Presence?

You're smart, driven, and good at what you do. But that alone won't be enough to score you a promotion or corner office. A slew of other factors that constitute "executive presence" — from your wardrobe to your ability to inspire colleagues — will also play a huge role in how far you'll go. We've broken it all down for you right here, from the big ideas to the finishing touches. So consider this the ultimate how-to guide for your brilliant career.

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THE ISSUE OF ETHNICITY

"Latina women have to dress two levels up or others will think, Hey, that must be the new girl they hired to be so-and-so's assistant! And we cannot have that cross their minds."—Hispanic senior vice president of a Fortune 500 media conglomerate

"I think it's about having polish and a finished look. Whatever you wear, whatever your hairstyle — it cannot be a distraction. When you walk into a room, what do you want somebody to know about you? What do you want to be reinforced?"—Chief diversity officer of a prominent tech firm

As an Asian-American woman, I was brought up to not talk, to be a listener. Don't speak unless spoken to. Don't project confidence. At work, people didn't see me as a leader, and I didn't get the same respect as others at my level. —Senior exec at a major accounting firm

Many African-American and Hispanic women can work hard and stay in a position for a long time but still not get promoted. We must learn how to ask for the highly visible assignments. —Associate professor at a top business school

"The force of my personality would have some clients' hair standing on end. So I find myself modulating my tone, quieting my voice, and being less emotional because it's much more effective. I don't want to suggest that I'm being disingenuous, but I also want to win. What will be most likely to make me successful?" —African-American money manager


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