In this article from the Wall Street Journal, Joann S. Lublin describes How to Look and Act Like a Leader.
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Savvy executives know the part, act the part and look the part. That’s because they exude “executive presence,” a broad term used to describe the aura of leadership.
For Janie Sharritt, now a vice president at Sara Lee Corp., an image makeover helped her gain the managerial gravitas that she needed to advance further up the ladder.
In 2005, Ms. Sharritt was a newly promoted middle manager for another consumer-products manufacturer. She preferred to wear a ponytail, scant makeup, khakis, sweaters and loafers. But by taking a “Power of Image” workshop led by image coach Jonna Martin, she got an expert makeover. Her revamped look included a sophisticated hairstyle, dressy slacks and jackets, pumps, colorful necklaces and extra makeup.
She thinks the changes boosted her self confidence, resulting in faster acceptance of her ideas by senior management. “In the past, [that quick buy-in] wasn’t one of the things I was known for,” says Ms. Sharritt. She joined Sara Lee four years ago.
Executives with presence act self confident, strategic, decisive and assertive, concludes a study released late last year by the Center for Work-Life Policy, a New York think tank.
Presence plays an increasingly important role as companies grapple with a weak recovery and fewer management layers. “You have less time to make that lasting impression,” warns Stefanie Smith, head of Stratex Consulting, a New York coaching firm. Today, 75% of her coaching practice involves enhancing clients’ presence–up from 35% in 2007.