In Malcolm Gladwell’s best seller Blink, we learned that only 14.5% of men in the US are six feet tall and above—but 58% of all Fortune 500 CEOs are tall. Is it a coincidence? Not at all.
Physical appearance is one of three subtle and not so subtle factors that are associated with Executive Presence. In addition to your appearance, a study conducted by The Center for Talent Innovation and published in Maire Claire Magazine finds that gravitas and communication skills are the three pillars of executive presence.
For the record, the average height of Latinas in the United States is 5’ 2” and just in case you might be wondering—no, wearing six inch stilettos is definitely not a good idea for improving your executive presence and definitely not a good idea for your health! In navigating your career strategy as in the rest of your life, you will be wise to focus on what you can change or control versus what you cannot.
It is not a surprise that great speaking skills and the ability to command a room are essential to great communication. Similarly, good grooming and physical attractiveness are core to making a positive impression on others. Perhaps the most nuanced attribute for executive presence is what the researchers refer to as gravitas. The dictionary defines gravitas as “high seriousness” but the researchers linked it to six key behaviors: demonstrating confidence, acting decisively, showing integrity, using emotional intelligence, cultivating a strong professional reputation, and projecting vision.
The contribution of this research to executive education for Latinas is profound because it points to the areas that are part of our existing strengths and it highlights where we may want to learn more to achieve our goals. Within our culture, there is already a great emphasis placed on communication, integrity, and emotional intelligence—a variation of what many of us grew up hearing as “personalismo”. Latinas are great communicators! The challenge for us is to direct our gift for communicating to be seen as confidant, decisive and visionary. For example, the researchers found that demonstrating anxiousness in front of an audience or relying on too many notes during a presentation will diminish our executive presence. Similarly, the ability to speak the truth and confront tough situations with poise are the attributes assigned to great leaders.
The good news about this study is that most of the skills identified can be learned if you invest in yourself—this is the question for Latinas. Are you serious about developing your Executive Presence? For the price of those high end stilettos that you are not going to buy, you can take some online workshops or get a coaching session to support your career. Investing in ourselves may be a new endeavor and it may even be a sacrifice at times but the long term value is not to be underestimated. Tell me how you are developing your executive presence at Latina Cubicle Confidential™ or join me live at the next LatinaVIDA™.