What's Wrong with What Women are Taught About Executive Presence?

1 min read | Samantha Furbush Taraskiewicz

Not long ago Leading Women CEO, Susan Colantuono, was working with top executive women and men on a discussion of executive presence. She asked everyone to write down the first quality that comes to mind when they think of "executive presence." Then they took their words and stood next to flipcharts labeled Personal Greatness, Engaging Others and Achieving Outcomes.

To their surprise, over 50% of the room had words that fell under Personal Greatness, about 30% engaging others and under 20% on achieving outcomes.

BUT this wasn't to our surprise. To find out why...

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Leading Women teamed up once again with researcher, Lara El Feghaly, to analyze the responses to the question: "Think of a woman who has executive presence. What characteristic about her stands out the most to you?" These responses then were applied to our 3-part definition of leadership: 
It was not surprising to us that once again the majority of the responses fell into "Personal Greatness" and "Engaging Others" categories. As women move up, they get to a point where future opportunities rest on their perceived potential for leading the business, not just leading the people. When determining whether a woman can lead the business, executives look for business, strategic and financial acumen. This is what Susan Colantuono calls the missing 33 percent of the career success equation for women — not because women don't or can't have business, strategic and financial acumen, but because very few women are clearly told how essential these skills are for reaching the top.
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